In one of the most closely watched primary races for a federal election, right-wing pundit, venture capitalist and author J.D. Vance won the Republican Party primaries on Tuesday to run for a Senate seat in Ohio in a likely demonstration of the command that former President Donald Trump still has over voter opinion through his endorsement.

Vance beat runner-up Josh Mandel, who is Jewish, by receiving 32.2% of the vote to Mandel’s 23.9%, who narrowly edged out State Sen. Matt Dolan, who received 23.3%.

Vance and Mandel both positioned themselves as MAGA candidates and spent the better part of a year vying for Trump’s endorsement until Trump eventually backed Vance on April 15.

The endorsement shot Vance to the top of the field, having been in third place according to polls taken before the endorsement.

While both candidates supported Trump, Vance’s campaign focused on a populist message that prioritized American issues over all else, including saying that he would not support arming Ukraine until a wall is built on the southern border of the United States. He also questioned America’s alliance with Ukraine against Russia.

Mandel, who previously served as Ohio’s treasurer and state representative, ran for Senate in 2012 and 2018.

He graciously conceded the race to Vance, calling him to congratulate him on the hard-fought win. Mandel told supporters at his victory party that he looked forward to voting for and doing anything he can to help Vance triumph in November when he faces Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) in the general election.

“The stakes are too high for this country to not support the nominee, and I want to congratulate him, congratulate his team,” said Mandel.

Vance, who has never visited Israel but has said he supports it and sees common values between devout Catholics like himself and Jews, was also congratulated by retiring Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who endorsed former Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken in the race.

J.D. Vance speaking at an event in Phoenix, Ariz., April 17, 2021. Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

“This evening, I spoke with [Vance] to congratulate him on winning the primary. I offered my support and look forward to helping him keep this seat Republican,” Portman said in a tweet. “I believe we need a GOP majority in the U.S. Senate as a check and balance on the Biden admin, and Ohio will be key to that effort.”

Jennifer Rubin, a columnist for The Washington Post and longtime critic of Trump, frowned on the statement by Portman, a moderate Republican. “He really did throw his legacy away on this Trump sycophancy even after announcing his retirement. Truly disgraceful. Or maybe he’s always been a hack,” she tweeted.

Dolan, the only candidate in the race who refused to tie himself to Trump, also released a statement supporting Vance.

“J.D. Vance and I have debated our differences, and in this hard-fought campaign, he was successful. I know we share a love for our country because it’s not just a place, but an idea and a cause worth fighting for,” he wrote. “Ohio Republicans have spoken, and now it’s time to look forward, united in our conservative convictions to make our state and nation a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

Ryan saw an easy victory in the Democratic primary, besting his closest opponent, Morgan Harper, by 52% of the vote and winning in every county.

He is supported by the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) whose president, Mark Mellman, congratulated him on his victory and looked ahead to the need for him to beat Vance in November to help Democrats keep the Senate in what is expected to be a tough midterm election for Democratic candidates nationwide.


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