- Republican JD Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan will face off in Ohio’s US Senate race.
- Vance, a venture capitalist and “Hillbilly Elegy” author, was endorsed by Donald Trump.
- Polls closed at 7: 30 pm. See live results below.
Ohio is holding primary elections for a Republican-held open US Senate seat. Polls closed at 7: 30 p.m.
The race and the stakes:
Republican JD Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan will face off in the open US Senate race in Ohio to replace outgoing GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who announced in January 2021 that he would not be re-seeking a 3rd term in office.
Portman’s retirement opened up the doors for a new slate of contenders to represent the state in the Senate — and set up a particularly high-stakes contest for Republicans.
One of the leading candidates on the Republican side of the aisle is venture capitalist and author JD Vance, whose campaign is backed by billionaire Peter Thiel.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Vance in mid-April. But Trump’s backing didn’t guarantee smooth sailing for Vance in the crowded and unpredictable race — and not just because Trump mangled Vance’s name as “JD Mandel” at a recent rally. (Former state representative and Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel is one of Vance’s Republican rivals.)
Trump’s endorsement of Vance came much to the chagrin of several GOP leaders in the state, who warned Trump against nominating the “Hillbilly Elegy” author for several comments denigrating Trump and his supporters. Among them: unearthed messages with Vance’s former college roommate from 2016 revealed Vance comparing Trump to German dictator Adolf Hitler.
Trump’s backing of Vance, who’s also twice failed to properly file required financial disclosures during the campaign, has also spurred a bitter dispute and falling out between Trump and his onetime-ally David McIntosh, president of the influential Club for Growth, which backed Mandel.
Without Trump’s endorsement, Mandel leaned on endorsements from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who briefly served as Trump’s national security advisor, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to fuel his campaign. Also of help: financial support from the Club for Growth, which aired ads highlighting Vance’s stinging critiques of Trump from several years ago, The New York Times reported.
Mandel, who has long made waves with his inflammatory remarks and tweets, has positioned himself as a fighter in the race — and not just figuratively.
He squared off against fellow GOP candidate Mike Gibbons, a largely self-funded candidate, at a March debate after Gibbons took a shot at Mandel’s experience working in the private sector — a brouhaha that almost led to a physical altercation on stage.
Other Republican candidates included former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken, Mark Pukita, Neil Patel, and Matt Dolan.
Dolan, another wealthy candidate who has put significant sums of his own money into his campaign, was the only candidate in the primary who has not angled for Trump’s support by echoing his lies that the 2020 election was stolen. He has campaigned on looking toward the future instead of re-litigating the past.
Dolan saw a last-minute boost in support in recent polls leading up to the election and earned the backing of a high-profile donor, momentum that made him a target of Trump’s attacks.
On the Democratic Party side, Ryan easily secured the Democratic nomination against attorney Morgan Harper and tech executive Traci Johnson.
Ryan, first elected to Congress in 2012 from a district in Youngstown, Ohio, unsuccessfully ran for president in the 2020 Democratic primary.
What experts say:
Ohio, once a competitive battleground state, has trended markedly more Republican in recent years, with Trump winning the state in 2020 by 8 percentage points. In the November general election, the Ohio Senate race is rated as “solid Republican” by Inside Elections, “lean R” by The Cook Political Report, and “likely R” by Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.