Tuesday night’s Republican primaries were a critical test of Donald Trump’s influence, and the former president won big: all 22 candidates he endorsed in Indiana and Ohio won, Breitbart reported.
In the biggest news of the night, a late endorsement from Trump carried a former critic of his, Hillbilly Elegy author and venture capitalist J. D. Vance, to victory in Ohio’s crowded, closely watched Senate race.
Vance, who took 32% of the vote, thanked Trump for his support in a victory speech, saying, “I have absolutely got to thank the 45th President of the United States.”
Josh Mandel, Vance’s top competitor, came in second with nearly 24% of the vote. The only candidate in the race to break with Trump, Matt Dolan, lagged in third with 23%.
With most of the field jockeying for Trump’s favor, Vance’s primary opponents had sought to question his loyalty to the Trump movement by bringing up his past criticism of Trump, who Vance attacked as a racist demagogue in 2016.
But as a Senate candidate, Vance adopted a nationalist platform and Trumpian rhetoric. Trump reset the race with a shocking endorsement of Vance on April 15, just a couple of weeks before Tuesday night’s marquee contest.
In bestowing his blessing, Trump acknowledged that Vance said some “not so great things about me in the past,” but said he trusts that Vance had evolved from his anti-Trump past into a capable “America First” champion.
Big night for Trump
Trump’s team praised Vance’s political acumen but noted that Trump’s endorsement was the critical factor in propelling Vance to victory.
“The power of President Trump’s endorsement is undeniable, his dominance over the Republican powerbrokers in D.C. cannot be overstated, and the promise of this MAGA Movement will not just define the Midterms, but it will win for years to come,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said.
Vance was the most notable among 22 candidates who won their primaries with Trump’s endorsement Tuesday night, continuing a trend from March when Trump’s candidates swept primaries in Texas.
The Republican establishment had spent millions of dollars opposing Vance’s candidacy through groups like the Club for Growth. His victory is a sobering loss for the “RINOS,” as Trump calls them, and a clear sign that Trump’s “America First” agenda has enduring appeal in the Rust Belt.
Trump’s popularity in Ohio, a state he carried handily in 2016 and 2020, tilts the odds in Vance’s favor as he prepares to face Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan (D) in November.