J.D. Vance, a venture capitalist and author of the bestselling “Hillbilly Elegy,” said Thursday he’s running for Ohio’s open Senate seat, joining an already crowded field of Republicans.
“I think we need people in Washington who are fighters — and not just fighters, but smart fighters,” Vance said in Middletown, Ohio. “There are a lot of fighters in Washington, D.C. They just fight for the wrong things.”
A pack of GOPers are vying for the seat, which will be vacated when Sen. Rob Portman (R) retires next year after two terms in office. Former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken, and business executives Bernie Moreno and Mike Gibbons also are running.
Others could still enter the race before the state’s May 2022 Republican primary. Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan is the only candidate so far for his party’s nomination. The fall 2022 election could determine the makeup of the Senate, now evenly divided.
“Hillbilly Elegy” elevated Vance to national fame, but he has garnered criticism from some Republicans for his opposition to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“I can’t stomach Trump. I think that he’s noxious and is leading the white working class to a very dark place,” Vance said during an NPR interview at the time.
He later adopted themes championed by Trump, engaging in criticism of the “woke” culture war and calling for restrictive immigration policies.
It’s unclear who Trump plans to back in the race, but his endorsement will likely carry heavy political weight. He easily won the state in 2016 and 2020.
Vance’s Republican competitors have already taken aim at his anti-Trump stances. CNN noted that GOP voters in Ohio received anonymous text messages this week calling Vance a “Never Trumper.”
The author has a substantial war chest. Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel has pledged $10 million for Vance’s campaign. Thiel was an early investor in Vance’s venture capital fund, The New York Times noted.
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