J.D. Vance wins Ohio GOP Senate primary, will face Tim Ryan in November

Vance’s numbers surged after President Donald Trump endorsed him more than a week into early voting.
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 9:42 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - J.D. Vance triumphed in the GOP primary for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat on Tuesday, defeating six other Republicans in a bruising bid to replace Sen. Rob Portman.

The Associated Press called the race for Vance around 9:30 p.m. as he led his opponents with 32% of the vote, according to unofficial results. Also vying for the nomination were former state treasurer Josh Mandel, investment banker Mike Gibbons, former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken, state Sen. Matt Dolan, and businessmen Mark Pukita and Neil Patel.

Vance face Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan in November. The “Hillbilly Elegy” author got a push across the finish line from former President Donald Trump, who endorsed him after debating for months whether to weigh in on the race.

Tim Ryan easily wins Democratic primary

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan secured the Democratic nomination for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat on Tuesday and will face the winner of a bruising GOP primary this November.

The Associated Press called the race for Ryan just before 8 p.m. as he led attorney Morgan Harper and tech executive Traci Johnson with 71% of the vote, according to unofficial results. The 10-term congressman was considered the frontrunner in the race and secured endorsements from high-profile Democrats across the state.

He also outpaced his Republican opponents in fundraising, even as some funneled millions of their own dollars into the primary contest.

“We’re trying to build a future with our kids. It doesn’t come from hating each other,” Ryan said during an election party in Columbus. “It comes from us looking at each other, and seeing Americans, fellow Americans, that are charged with the responsibility...of shepherding this democracy.”

Harper sought to capture support from progressive Democrats who feel disenchanted with the current party structure. Touting policies like Medicare-for-all and Supreme Court expansion, she argued Ryan is a career politician who’s accomplished little during his time in Congress.

She also criticized Ryan’s record on abortion access, noting he opposed the practice until publicly changing his position in 2015.

Harper attracted attention earlier in the campaign when she debated Republican Josh Mandel after Ryan declined to debate her before the candidate filing deadline. The three Democrats eventually faced off during a debate at Central State University in March.

Ryan adopted a jobs-focused, tough-on-China stance. In his most recent ad, he criticized defunding the police and said his “party also got it wrong” with trade deals that resulted in lost American jobs.

“I’ve criticized Nancy Pelosi, I’ve disagreed with Obama, I’ve agreed with Trump,” Ryan said emphasizing that in the end, he’s looking out for what’s best for Ohio over his political party.

Ryan will face one of seven Republicans vying for the chance to replace retiring Sen. Rob Portman: former state treasurer Josh Mandel, “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance, investment banker Mike Gibbons, former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken, state Sen. Matt Dolan, and businessmen Mark Pukita and Neil Patel.

Vance was leading a close Republican contest with nearly 30% of the vote around 9 p.m., according to unofficial results.

Bruising GOP primary coming to a close

The GOP primary was far more contentious than the Democratic race, particularly in its final days. Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Vance gave the venture capitalist a critical boost at the tail end of his campaign, but some voters remained skeptical of Vance and wanted to assess the candidates themselves.

The endorsement also escalated tensions between Vance and Mandel, who led the polls for several months before Trump made his decision. Groups backing both men clashed on the airwaves over everything from Vance’s comments to Mandel’s past appearances with moderate Republicans like 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Recent polling in the GOP primary illustrated a close race with some voters undecided just days ahead of Tuesday’s election. Dolan, the only candidate who did not actively seek Trump’s endorsement, saw a late surge in those surveys after trailing behind his opponents for several months.

The Republican winner is expected to have a leg up in the November election. Trump won the Buckeye State by 8 percentage points in 2016 and 2020, and the electorate has become more conservative in recent years.

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