Trump-backed Vance wins Ohio Senate seat

Republican nominee JD Vance, who received the endorsement of former President Trump in a crowded primary race earlier this year, was expected to win the Ohio Senate race on Tuesday.

Both NBC News and ABC News called the race.

Vance beat 20-year-old Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who represents Akron and Youngstown, and made the contest surprisingly close by appealing to swing voters in eastern Ohio.

Republican JD Vance was expected to win the Ohio Senate race against Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio). (Associated Press)

Trump played a key role in the race by endorsing Vance in the Republican primary, where he came from behind to defeat former state treasurer Josh Mandel and businessman Mike Gibbons.

Vance, the author of the best-selling book ‘Hillbilly Elegy’, was stuck in single digits in the polls and in third place before storming to the front of the pack in the primary, buoyed by Trump’s endorsement and the damage Mandel and Gibbons inflict on each other from personal attacks.

Vance has criticized Trump in the past, telling interviewer Charlie Rose in 2016 that he was “a Never Trump guy” and “never liked him.”

But Vance decided to embrace Trump in the primary and praised him in April as “the best president I’ve ever had.”

Trump reveled in Vance’s turnaround.

“JD kisses my ass; he wants my support so badly,” Trump joked at a recent campaign rally in Youngstown.

Vance, who was a vocal critic of former President Trump in the past, embraced him wholeheartedly during his Senate campaign. (Associated Press)

Vance fired on other Republican leaders and embraced Trump’s bogus allegations of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

“I think the fundamental problem is that we made a massive effort to move the election by very powerful people in this country,” he told Spectrum News in January. “I don’t care if you say it’s faked, if you say it’s stolen, like, I’ll say what I say about it.”

He said at a rally with Trump in April that “we have ridiculous leadership, even on the Republican side, trying to undo some of the best things Donald Trump has done in the last four years.”

Vance declined to commit to voting for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) When asked about a possible Senate leadership race at a Fox News town hall event, saying only, “We’ll see what what will happen when I get to Washington, DC”

McConnell, however, raised millions for Vance through an aligned super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, which poured more than $30 million into the Ohio Senate race.

Another McConnell-affiliated group, One Nation, announced a $3.8 million multi-week ad buy in August to help Vance.

The influx of spending from outside groups helped offset Vance’s lackluster fundraising performance.

The Ohio Senate race remained tight for much of the fall, but Vance widened his lead in the days leading up to the election. (Associated Press)

Vance raised $12.8 million during his Senate campaign while Ryan raised $48.1 million, according to the most recent public data released online by the Federal Election Commission.

The fundraising gap drew criticism from Republican strategists in Washington who questioned why Vance wasn’t raising more money and doing better in the polls.

The race was close to a tie for much of October, with the two candidates statistically tied, according to an average of polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.

Vance appeared to widen his lead in the final week of the campaign with polls from the Republican-leaning Trafalgar Group and Democratic-leaning Data for Progress both showing Vance ahead by 10 points.

He pledged last week to accept the result of the Ohio race, which he expected to win.

“I expect to win,” Vance said at a Columbus town hall event. “But of course, if things don’t go to plan, I will support the guy who wins and try to be as supportive as possible, even accepting that we are going to disagree on some big issues.”

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