Former President Donald Trump’s enduring grip on the Republican Party tightened on Tuesday night when his preferred candidate, investment banker and Hillbilly Elegy writer J.D. Vance, won the GOP primary in Ohio’s U.S. senate race.

The Associated Press reports:

Vance, former State Treasurer Josh Mandel, businessman Mike Gibbons and former state GOP chair Jane Timken all vied for Trump’s endorsement, increasingly adopting language that mirrored the former president’s bombastic, populist style. In the end, Trump went with Vance, who in 2016 said the celebrity businessman could become “America’s Hitler” but has since become an avid supporter.

Vance wooed the former president by echoing his bashing of immigrants, skepticism about U.S. military involvement overseas — even in support of Ukraine — and lies about Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. Lagging in the polls when he received Trump’s endorsement three weeks ago, Vance made it a centerpiece of his closing pitch and vaulted ahead of his rivals.

Axios adds:

Vance was overwhelmingly helped by three people: The former president’s eldest son, Don Jr.; Tucker Carlson; and one of the biggest donors in GOP politics, Peter Thiel. All worked behind the scenes to put Vance in a position to get Trump’s endorsement.

Don Jr. ultimately held four rallies, two fundraisers, relentlessly attacked Mandel on social media, called into Ohio radio shows and even made fundraising calls on Vance’s behalf to high dollar donors, according to a source familiar with Don Jr.’s activities.

In November’s general election, Vance will face Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat who handily beat his opponent, progressive Morgan Harper. Trump easily won Ohio in 2016 and 2020, indicating that Vance has a major edge against Ryan. The two are competing to fill the Senate seat being vacated by retiring GOP moderate Rob Portman.


Trump probably has one more chance to run for president, in 2024. But the 75-year-old former president is putting an imprint on the party in the midterms that could last for decades, regardless of whether he runs again.

Vance, his endorsed candidate in the Ohio Senate race, is only 37. Max Miller, a former Trump aide who won his House primary in Ohio in a landslide, is in his early 30s. In a northeast Ohio House race, Trump-backed attorney Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, who is 30, was running ahead in early returns. Rep. Ted Budd, who has a comfortable lead in North Carolina’s Senate primary, which will be held later this month, is 50.

If Trump’s candidates keep winning, it will all add up to a lot of Trump loyalty coursing through the party for years.

However, Trump has been less successful playing the role of kingmaker when it comes to Republican governors. More from The Associated Press:

Trump castigated [Ohio’s] Republican Gov. Mike DeWine for his strict coronavirus policies in 2020, but DeWine cruised to victory in [Tuesday’s] primary. He will face Democrat Nan Whaley in the general election. Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton, is the first woman nominated by a major party for Ohio governor.

In Indiana, a push by hard-right GOP candidates to take over the state legislature mostly fell short. The AP reports:

The roughly two dozen so-called liberty candidates saw only a few victories in Republican legislative races across the state, with one defeating a 10-term incumbent in northern Indiana and two others winning nominations for GOP-leaning open seats.

A few races remained uncalled late Tuesday, but more than 10 incumbent lawmakers overcame challenges from candidates who argued that the Legislature hasn’t been aggressive enough in attempting to ban abortion, enhancing gun rights and overturning COVID-19 restrictions that were ordered by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Elsewhere in Indiana, Rep. Greg Pence, the brother of the former vice president, fended off a primary challenger. His re-election is all but assured in November.

CNN notes that “Indiana’s Democratic and Republican Senate primaries are both uncontested. Incumbent GOP Sen. Todd Young will face Democrat Thomas McDermott, the mayor of Hammond, in November.”