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Ohio Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel. Photo: Chris Maddaloni / Getty Images

During this weekend’s highly anticipated donor retreat hosted by the Republican National Committee in Palm Beach, Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel was escorted off the premises while his primary opponent, Jane Timken, was allowed to stay, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell Axios.

What we’re hearing: The invitation-only event is taking place at the Four Seasons Resort, and the RNC reserved the entire hotel. While Timken, former Ohio GOP chair, was invited to the event “because she is a major donor” — Mandel was not, so he was asked to leave, according to one of the sources.

  • Despite not having his name on the list, Mandel seized on the opportunity to get some face time with top Republican donors while they all were in one place, one source familiar with his plans told Axios.
  • But when the first event formally kicked off at the hotel Friday night, Mandel and others who did not have credentials were asked to leave.
  • A spokesperson for the RNC declined to comment. Mandel's team did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Between the lines: Those attending the retreat not only have access to big donors, but also key party players, including former President Trump.

  • Saturday evening, the group will travel to Mar-a-Lago, where Trump is expected to deliver remarks and mingle with attendees.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential contender, will also speak.

Why it matters: The incident gives Timken more visibility and access to Trump, which is crucial as he continues to be the party’s rainmaker and most influential player.

  • It also underscores how Trump’s efforts to continue leading the GOP have made all interactions with donors high-stakes.

Background: Trump previously showed interest in endorsing Timken, but was ultimately talked out of it by his son, Donald Trump Jr., and other top advisers.

  • Mandel and Timken have long been extremely pro-Trump and both are vying to get the former president's endorsement — which could be the deciding factor in who wins the race to replace Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who recently announce he will not run for reelection.

Go deeper

Reports: CIA finds "Havana Syndrome" unlikely caused by foreign campaign

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill last April. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

A preliminary CIA report rules out a foreign global campaign as the cause of American and Canadian diplomats affected by a mysterious illness known as "Havana syndrome," per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers had suggested the sometimes debilitating illness was due to directed energy attacks. But CIA officials told the New York Times that most of the 1,000 cases reported to the government could be "explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress." This finding has angered some victims, per the NYT.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.

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