Author and Ohio Republican Senate hopeful J.D. Vance won his primary on Tuesday night after being backed by Donald Trump in a race that was viewed as a test of the former President's continued influence on the GOP. When the Associated Press called the race closed, about two hours after polls, Vance was leading the crowded field of primary candidates with 32 percent of the vote.
Last month, Trump backed Vance, giving him a lift in surveys dubbed "The Trump Bump" by commentators. Vance hailed Trump for his endorsement and criticized the media for publicizing his previous criticism of the former president while speaking to supporters in Cincinnati.
Big Win for Vance and Trump
Vance's win is being seen as a major victory for Trump ahead of the November 8 congressional elections. Vance's victory also catapults Trump ahead of former state treasurer Josh Mandel, also a staunch Trump supporter.
After AP called the race in favor of Vance at 9:35 pm on Tuesday, he jumped out to a lead over six other candidates vying for the nomination. Vance had 32.2 percent of the vote, compared to Mandel's 23.9 percent and Dolan's 23.3 percent, with more than 95 percent of the vote returning.
The author of the best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy had a particularly strong showing in rural Ohio.
Vance, 37, had previously attacked Trump in 2016, but on the campaign path, he modified his attitude and welcomed the 45th president. That also saw Trump last month going on to back Vance, giving him a lift in surveys dubbed "The Trump Bump" by commentators.
Following his win, Vance thanked Trump for his backing that played key role in his win. "I have absolutely gotta thank the 45th, the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, ladies and gentleman," Vance said onstage at his Cincinnati, Ohio headquarters Tuesday night.
"Thanks to the president for everything, for endorsing me," he said.
'I've gotta say, a lot of the fake news media out there, and there's some good ones in the back there, 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," he continued.
"Ladies and gentleman, it's not the death of the America First agenda," Vance added to cheers and applause.
According to reports, Trump also called Vance to congratulate him after his win. "The GOP is now the MAGA party! America First!" tweeted Trump's first son, Donald Trump Jr.
Trump on Solid Ground
Vance will now face Democratic congressman Tim Ryan in November in a race to take the seat of retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman. Ryan, who ran for president in 2020, soundly defeated progressive challenger Morgan Harper in the primaries.
However, Vance's victory is being seen as a major win for Trump, which was being seen as an early test of the former president's sway over his party as he eyes a possible White House run in 2024.
Trump's late endorsement came just three weeks before the primary's end, after several contenders jockeyed for the former president's support and fought for his base's support.
"We cannot play games. It is all about winning," said Trump, who acknowledged Vance's changing stance in his endorsement.
"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," Trump said at the time.
Vance, who had the support of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, had portrayed himself as a Washington outsider who, if elected in the post-Trump GOP style, would shake up the current quo.