Trump-backed candidate wins nomination for key US Senate race

CINCINNATI, OH – MAY 3: Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance and his wife Usha Vance wave to supporters after winning the primary, at an election night event at Duke Energy Convention Center on May 3, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Vance, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, narrowly won over former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, according to published reports. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)


WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — J.D. Vance, a Republican candidate for the US Senate who had received former president Donald Trump’s endorsement, has won his party’s hotly-contested primary in Ohio, US media projected Tuesday.

Like many Republicans, the 37-year-old was initially critical of Trump during the latter’s rise in politics — at one point even calling him “America’s Hitler” — but later became an ardent supporter, emulating the former president’s firebrand style of populism.

A former Marine and graduate of the Ivy League Yale Law School, Vance first shot to fame with the publication of his 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” which sought to explain why working class white voters could be drawn to the candidacy of a New York real estate mogul like Trump.

Several candidates were vying for the Republican nomination in Ohio, with the race largely revolving around how close the party should remain to Trump, who still repeatedly claims he won the 2020 presidential election.

Moderate Republicans, including outgoing Senator Rob Portman, fear that Democrats may be able to win the November general election if the Republican nominees support those unfounded claims.

KENT, OH – MAY 03: John Friday, 84, a retired math professor at Kent State University fills in his ballot during primary voting at Central Elementary School on May 3, 2022 in Kent, Ohio. Former President Donald Trump recently endorsed J.D. Vance in the Ohio Republican Senate primary. Other candidates in the Republican Senate primary field include Josh Mandel, Mike Gibbons, Jane Timken, Matt Dolan and Mark Pukita. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by JEFF SWENSEN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

“I’ve absolutely got to thank the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump,” Vance told his supporters in a victory speech.

“A lot of the fake news media out there … wanted to write a story that this campaign would be the death of Donald Trump’s America First Agenda. Ladies and gentlemen, it ain’t the death of the America First Agenda!” said Vance.

In the November election, Vance will face off against moderate Democrat Tim Ryan, a sitting US representative from a blue-collar district.

Ohio’s other sitting senator is Democrat Sherrod Brown, who has a similar style of politics to Ryan, giving hope to Democrats that they will be able to pick up a key Senate seat from the red-leaning state.

The US Senate is currently divided 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, so each election this November holds the possibility of swinging control of the chamber.


© Agence France-Presse