The candidate signaled by Donald Trump’s wand has won the Ohio Republican primary election and will compete for a seat in the Senate. The vote was the first serious test of the influence the former president still wields among the GOP electorate. Based on the victory of JD Vance, his favourite, Trump’s shadow still hovers over his co-religionists, although it is too early to draw definitive conclusions.
According to the preliminary results and projections released by the Associated Press (an agency that is particularly reliable when it comes to anticipating the results of the US elections), JD Vance has achieved more than 32% of the votes, while his two closest rivals remained between 20% and 25%.
James David Vance, 37, is a former Marine, Yale graduate, investment firm manager and bestselling writer. He is the author of Hillbilly, a country elegy, the story of a poor white family from the Appalachian area: yours. The book was published in June 2016, when Vance was 31 years old, with a limited print run, but ended up being a great success, selling more than three million copies. His story helped explain why white working-class America fell in love with Trump’s populism as an outlet for his anger.
The Republican race for the Senate seat vacated by Rob Portman was very crowded. In addition to other candidates with less support, Vance’s main contenders were Josh Mandel, with a very harsh populist discourse against immigrants; Matt Dolan, a state congressman and the only anti-Trump candidate with a chance, and Mike Gibbons, an investment banker with many millions for the campaign.
Vance seemed the worst placed of the three at the beginning of the campaign. His rivals used against him precisely the criticisms (and insults) that he had directed at Trump in the past. But Vance had already rectified somewhat by asking for the vote for Trump in 2020 and last month they finished making peace. Trump recommended voting for Vance and Vance put that recommendation as a pinned tweet on his account. The chosen one started the comeback and finally the former president’s bet seems to have decided the battle.
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In the venture capital business, Vance was a director of Peter Thiel’s investment firm, co-founder of PayPal with Elon Musk and a major donor to both the former president’s campaign and the now senator candidate.
JD Vance will face Democrat Tim Ryan, a member of the House of Representatives in Washington since 2013, who entered the 2019 Democratic primary race for the presidency without much success and who has now decided to try to jump to the Senate. Vance starts as the favorite for November 8, as Ohio has been voting Republican in a majority in recent years. But Ryan will put up a fight. In fact, he began this Tuesday night his attacks against Vance, accusing him of not being aware of the reality of Ohio.
Ohio is, or at least was, one of those swing states that reflects the general sentiment of the American electorate. From 1964 to 2016, whoever won Ohio was elected president. However, in 2020 Trump prevailed in the State, but was defeated by Joseph Biden. This may indicate that it is a particularly Trumpist state and that the influence shown here by the former president is not necessarily replicable in others.
Todd Young, for example, will run for re-election as a senator from Indiana without domestic opposition despite being one of the few Republican congressmen Trump does not support. Young defended certifying the victory of Joe Biden in 2020 and was among the Republican congressmen who met with the newly elected president to address legislation on the pandemic.
For now, the vast majority of Trump’s recommended candidates have been winning congressional primaries. But in many cases it was about those who aspired to revalidate their seat and were already favored. In the coming weeks, the Republican primaries in states such as Pennsylvania, Georgia or North Carolina may give a measure of the extent to which Trump’s influence on party voters is decisive. And it remains to be seen whether the candidates sponsored by the former president succeed in November against their Democratic rivals. Trump has wanted to take advantage of the primary cycle to show himself as the great patron of his party, while he weighs whether to return to the presidential race for the 2024 elections.
Even in Ohio itself, the two souls of the party are battling it out. For example, Governor Mike DeWine clearly won the primaries yesterday to seek a repeat in office despite criticism from other members of his party who considered that the restrictions he imposed to fight covid were too strict.
Opposite DeWine was farmer Joe Blystone, an anti-vaccine candidate who had shared online (although later withdrawn) an image of himself in front of a swastika, and former congressman Jim Renacci. The latter was the one recommended by Trump, but it has fallen about 20 points below the 48% of the vote achieved by DeWine. Trump’s support, therefore, is not infallible.
November 8 road
The United States holds legislative elections on November 8, as every Tuesday after the first Monday of November of the years that end in even. The United States House of Representatives is completely renewed every two years. It has 435 seats distributed proportionally to the population. While representatives have a two-year term, senators have a six-year term. For this reason, every two years only a third of the 100 seats in the Senate are renewed.
Legislative elections coincide with presidential elections every four years. But among the presidential ones there are also legislative ones, the so-called mid-term elections or intermediate elections, as is happening this year.
The Senate is considered to be the most important chamber. Currently there is a 50-seat tie between Republicans and Democrats that is broken by the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, as President of the Upper House. The Senate is key to the legislative process and the approval of appointments.