Bestselling author JD Vance won the controversial and hypercompetitive primary of the Ohio Republican Senate, backed by Donald Trump’s endorsement in a contest widely seen as first proof of the former president’s grip on his party as the season of medium term takes over.
Vance’s victory concludes an exceptionally harsh and expensive primary competition that, at one point, saw two candidates almost come to blows over a debate stage.
And it marks a big win for Trump, who has bet his reputation as a Republican king on his ability to mobilize his supporters as he watches another White House rush in 2024.
Vance’s book “Hillbilly Elegy” which describes the social problems and cultural crisis in Central America has become an international bestseller and has been promoted as an insight into the conditions that led to Trump’s rise.
The author and venture capitalist had fallen behind in the polls before Trump entered the race less than three weeks ago, endorsing Vance despite his history as a staunch critic of Trump.
In 2016, Vance claimed that the famous businessman could become “America’s Hitler,” but has since become a staunch supporter.
The author said he was wrong and, like most of his rivals, he bonded with the former president, eagerly wooing his endorsement and running to his “America First” platform, pointing out to what extent the GOP race has transformed into his image.
Vance courted the former president echoing his attacks on immigrants, skepticism about US military involvement abroad, including in support of Ukraine, and lies about Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election.
He will face Democrat Tim Ryan, the 10-term Democrat MP who easily won the three-man primary on Tuesday night.
But the November general election to fill the seat vacated by retired Republican Senator Rob Portman should be an uphill struggle for Ryan in a state that Trump has won twice by an 8-point margin and in what should be a brutal. election year for Democrats trying to keep a majority in Congress.