Ohio Primary Elections: Live Updates

CINCINNATI — JD Vance, the bestselling author whose “Hillbilly Elegy” about life in Appalachia illuminated a slice of the country that felt left behind, decisively won the Ohio Senate primary on Tuesday after a Donald J. Trump’s late endorsement helped him soar past his rivals in a crowded field.

Presenting himself as a fighter against the nation’s elites, Mr. Vance portrayed himself as a pugilist and Trump-like outsider who has spoken out against threats from drugs, Democrats and illegal immigration, while at the same time reversing his past criticism of the former president.

The contest, which saw nearly $80 million in television advertising, was one of the most anticipated of the 2022 primary season for its potential to provide an early signal of Republican Party leadership.

The result gave a strong affirmation of Mr. Trump’s continued hold on his party’s base. But a fuller assessment of Mr Trump’s influence will come through a series of primaries over the next four weeks – in West Virginia, North Carolina, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

Mr. Vance trailed in most polls behind Josh Mandel, a former Ohio state treasurer who had also aggressively sought Mr. Trump’s support, until the government’s endorsement. former president in mid-April helps Mr. Vance get past. A third candidate, State Sen. Matt Dolan, ran as a more traditional Republican, occasionally mocking his rivals for their relentless focus on the former president instead of Ohio’s issues and voters.

Cheers rose at Mr Vance’s Cincinnati electoral party when the Associated Press called the race shortly after 9.30pm.

“People who are caught between the corrupt political class on the left and the right need a voice,” Mr Vance said in his victory speech. “They need a representative. And it will be me.

Mr Vance is an unlikely champion of the Trumpian mantle, having called the former president ‘reprehensible’ in 2016 and even “cultural heroine”. But he had completely changed his tune by 2022, and Mr. Trump called to congratulate him on his victory on Tuesday night, according to a person briefed on the call.

With more than 90% of the votes counted, Mr. Vance was leading in almost the entire state. But the results also captured some of the demographic tensions and compromises of a Republican party pulled in different directions, as Mr. Dolan was strongest in the voter-rich cities of Cleveland and Columbus.

Trump-style Republicans did not prevail in Tuesday’s other big contest. Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a more traditional Republican who has held office in the state for more than 40 years, finished far ahead of his multiple chief rivals after a strong right-wing challenge never won. ground despite a conservative backlash against Mr. DeWine. rapid and assertive response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Credit…Paul Vernon/Associated Press

Mr. DeWine had nearly double the votes of his nearest rival, Jim Renacci, a former House member. In the fall, he will run against Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton, who won the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, becoming the first woman in Ohio history to be named governor by a major party.

In the Senate race, Mr Vance will now face Rep. Tim Ryan, a 48-year-old Democrat from the Youngstown area who has positioned himself as a champion of blue-collar values ​​and has failed to align himself with some of the positions the most progressive of his party. .

If Mr. Vance wins in the fall, the 37-year-old Yale Law School graduate and investor would become the second-youngest member of the Senate, the youngest Republican in the chamber and a rare freshman who would make it to Washington with a national profile. .

His book had achieved best-selling status not only among conservatives but also among liberals, who, following the 2016 election, used it as a sort of decryption key to understanding Mr. Trump’s appeal in rural areas of the country.

Mr. Vance’s metamorphosis from an outspoken “Never Trump” Republican in 2016 to an outspoken Make America Great Again warrior in 2022 echoes the ideological journey of much of the party in recent years. Republicans have moved ever closer to the former president’s tough policy stance on issues such as trade and immigration, and his combative stance with Democrats and on cultural issues that divide the two parties. For some Republican voters, the primary was driven by fears that traditional family values ​​and a white American culture were under attack from far-left Democrats, establishment Republicans and elites.

From the start, Mr. Vance had a crucial financial benefactor: his former boss, Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor who promised Mr. Vance $10 million before he even officially joined the contest and who added millions more down the stretch. to trumpet Mr. Trump’s endorsement in recent weeks.

The Senate primary was unusual in that it took place in two places at once. In Ohio, there was the typical feverish competition for votes, in town halls, debates and television commercials. In Florida, there was the battle for Mr. Trump’s endorsement at Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s private club, with public displays of loyalty, surrogate lobbying and shuttle diplomacy . In an episode last year, several Ohio candidates argued over Trump’s support in front of each other during an impromptu meeting at Mar-a-Lago.

In a verbal flub that seemed almost apt for how the candidates presented themselves, Mr. Trump accidentally joined the names of two rivals over the weekend. “We approved JP, didn’t we? Mr. Trump said at a rally in Nebraska. “J.D. Mandel. »

Mr Trump’s endorsement sparked a frenzy among Republicans in Ohio who questioned Mr Vance’s Republican credentials, with rivals circulating fliers online and at a Trump rally the accusing him of being a Democrat in disguise and resurrecting his past comments against Mr Trump.

Credit…Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch, via Associated Press

Mr. Mandel had been the frontrunner for much of the race, portraying himself as the true pro-Trump candidate (“Pro-God. Pro-Guns. Pro-Trump” was the slogan of his TV ads). But that has become an almost impossible argument to pursue in the final weeks after Mr. Trump chose Mr. Vance.

“If the whole problem of the campaign is who is more like Trump, expect it to work against you when you don’t get approval,” said Rex Elsass, a Republican strategist based in the United States. ‘Ohio.

At a restaurant in the Cleveland suburb of Beachwood on Tuesday, more than a dozen Mandel supporters and campaign volunteers struck an early evening upbeat tone, expressing their confidence. But it wasn’t long before Mr Mandel took to the podium to deliver the news.

Mr Mandel told the crowd he had called Mr Vance “to congratulate him on a hard-earned victory” and would do whatever he could to help him get elected. “The stakes are too high for this country not to support the candidate,” Mandel said to a round of applause in the room.

Beyond Mr. Vance, Mr. Dolan and Mr. Mandel, the crowded race included only one candidate, Jane Timken, former chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, who was backed by incumbent Senator Rob Portman, as well as Mike Gibbons, a businessman who invested millions of his own money in the race and at one point topped the polls.

Mr. Dolan had struggled for most of the contest far behind the poll leaders, avoiding outright attacks from his rivals. But he dipped into his own fortune to fund more than $11 million in TV ads as he carved his own path separate from the rest of the Trump-focused field by refusing to amplify the lie that the 2020 election had been rigged. During a debate, Mr Dolan was the only candidate to raise his hand to say the former president should stop talking about the 2020 election.

Credit…Dustin Franz for The New York Times

The contest has been nasty and drawn out, with nothing capturing the intensity more than a near-physical confrontation between Mr Gibbons and Mr Mandel during a debate in March, where they banged their bellies while hurling verbal threats at each other. .

Mr. Vance scolded them both. “Sit down. Come on,” he said. “That’s ridiculous.”

Much of the race has been shaped by huge sums spent on television – nearly $80 million, according to ad tracking firm AdImpact, much of which comes from outside groups and out-of-state donors. . The conservative Growth Club has spent more than $12 million on TV ads aimed at boosting Mr Mandel or tearing down his rivals.

Mr. Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor, created a pro-Vance super PAC with $10 million in early 2021 – months before Mr. Vance even entered the race. Mr. Vance is one of two former Thiel employees – the other is Blake Masters in Arizona – running for the Senate with Mr. Thiel’s significant financial backing. Mr. Thiel had served as a key link between Mr. Vance and Mr. Trump, attend an introductory meeting with each other early 2021.

Ohio politics changed dramatically in the Trump era. Once the quintessential presidential swing state, Ohio broke for Mr. Trump by 8 percentage points in 2016 and 2020, ending a half-century streak of state backing for the national winner. Republicans have sharply increased their margins among white working-class voters and in more rural areas, offsetting the party’s losses in the state’s suburbs around cities like Columbus and Cleveland.

Credit…Dustin Franz for The New York Times

In the Democratic primary, Mr Ryan, who briefly ran for president in 2020, easily brushed off a lead challenge from Morgan Harper, 38, a former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau adviser who ran as a progressive, cashing in on $5 million for the general. election.

Mr. Ryan has previously led a anti-china publicity that focuses on jobs in Ohio and its general election opener ad has it throwing darts at a bar and seeking to separate itself from the broader Democratic brand, lamenting those who have called for defunding the police.

But Mr. Ryan faces a tough race in a Republican-leaning state and in a year when his party grapples with President Biden’s low approval ratings. Some Republicans see Mr. Ryan as formidable – Mr. Trump among them – but the general election is not considered by either party to be among the half-dozen closest contests that will determine control of the Senate, now evenly split 50-50.

Shane Goldmacher reported from Cincinnati. Jazmine Ulloa reported from Beachwood, Ohio.

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