OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Editor’s Note: An original version of this story included a quote from Donald Trump that claimed the 2020 election was “Rigged and Stolen Presidential Election.” Numerous fact checks have determined those claims are false. We have since removed the quote and regret the error.
In early April, it looked as though “Hillybilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance’s first foray into politics was doomed to fail. Running third and even fourth in some polls, Vance’s bid to win the GOP primary for retiring Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s seat seemed like just a pipe dream.
Then Donald Trump intervened.
The former president, seeing a whole lot of ‘America First’ potential in Vance, came out and publicly endorsed him over the rest of the field, some of whom were more well-known in the state.
That was around mid-April.
Just days later, new polling saw Vance rising to the top of the heap, and a rally on Vance’s behalf attended by the former president went on to solidify the first-timer’s victory Tuesday evening, with The Associated Press calling the race around 9:30 p.m. EDT, with just over half of the state’s precincts reporting.
It didn’t take long for Vance to express his gratitude.
“I’ve got to say, a lot of the fake news media — and there are there are some good ones in the back there, and there’s some bad ones too, let’s be honest — but they wanted to write a story that this campaign would be the death of Donald Trump’s America First agenda,” the candidate said in his victory speech. “Ladies and gentlemen, it ain’t the death of the America First agenda.”
The New York Times noted:
Casting himself as a fighter against the nation’s elites, Mr. Vance ran as a Trump-style pugilist and outsider who railed against the threats of drugs, Democrats and illegal immigration, while thoroughly backpedaling from his past criticisms of the former president.
The contest, which saw nearly $80 million in television advertising, was one of the most anticipated of the 2022 primary season for its potential to provide an early signal of the direction of the Republican Party.
The result delivered a strong affirmation of Mr. Trump’s continued grip on his party’s base. But a fuller assessment of Mr. Trump’s sway will come through a series of primaries in the next four weeks — in West Virginia, North Carolina, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
“MAGA patriots from across the nation are set to deliver an election landside for Republicans that will serve as a devastating rebuke of the failures of Joe Biden and the Radical Left Democrats. In the Great State of Ohio, the candidate most qualified and ready to win in November is J.D. Vance. We cannot play games. It is all about winning!” Trump noted when he endorsed Vance.
“Like some others, J.D. Vance may have said some not so great things about me in the past, but he gets it now, and I have seen that in spades. He is our best chance for victory in what could be a very tough race. The Democrats will be spending many millions of dollars, but the good news is that they have a defective candidate who ran for President and garnered exactly zero percent in the polls. The bottom line is, we must have a Republican victory in Ohio,” he said.
“This is not an easy endorsement for me to make because I like and respect some of the other candidates in the race—they’ve said great things about ‘Trump’ and, like me, they love Ohio and love our Country. I’ve studied this race closely and I think J.D. is the most likely to take out the weak, but dangerous, Democrat opponent—dangerous because they will have so much money to spend,” he continued.
Vance’s victory was one of nearly two dozen for Trump-backed candidates on Tuesday, putting the president’s picks at 55-0 for the primary season thus far and solidifying his as the most sought-after political endorsement of the midterm cycle thus far.