Sen. Vance, a top VP contender, at odds with Trump over competitive Arizona House race endorsements

 May 16, 2024

Populist conservative Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) has frequently been named as a top contender to be picked as former President Donald Trump's running mate and vice presidential candidate.

The Ohio senator's chances of being picked may be diminished by the fact that he and the former president are at odds over the competing candidates they've endorsed in a critical House primary race in Arizona, according to the Daily Mail.

Vance has endorsed unsuccessful former Senate candidate Blake Masters to be the next representative of Arizona's 8th Congressional District, while Trump, who previously backed Masters' Senate bid, has instead endorsed failed former state Attorney General candidate Abe Hamadeh for the open House seat.

Vance endorsed Masters

In October 2023, the Washington Examiner reported that Sen. Vance announced his endorsement of Masters to replace outgoing Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), who had just revealed that she was not running for re-election to another term.

"Blake is the conservative fighter we need in the House to combat the extreme liberal policies of Joe Biden and to put the GOP establishment in its place," Vance said of Masters. "He will fight for Arizona’s 8th district and be the ally I need in the House to secure our border, defend our families, bring our jobs home, and restore America to greatness."

The Examiner noted that Masters had initially considered mounting another run for the Arizona Senate seat occupied by outgoing Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) but opted instead to run for Lesko's seat following a conversation with former President Trump, who supported a Senate run by former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

The outlet also highlighted a unique connection both Vance and Masters shared in that they both previously worked for billionaire PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who supported both of their 2022 Senate runs with tens of millions of dollars but will reportedly refrain from any political spending in the 2024 cycle.

Trump endorsed Hamadeh

Just a few months after Sen. Vance endorsed Masters for the 8th District House race, the Arizona Republic reported in December 2023 that former President Trump endorsed one of Masters' competitors in the crowded Republican primary race, Abe Hamadeh.

"Abe Hamadeh is Strong on the Border, the Military/Vets, Cutting Taxes, Election Integrity, and Protecting our Great Second Amendment," Trump said in a Truth Social post. "He knows that if the flame of freedom is extinguished, it may never come back again."

Trump had previously endorsed Hamadeh's failed 2022 state attorney general run -- a loss that Hamadeh fervently disputed with multiple lawsuits that have all proven unsuccessful.

Will backing different House candidates in Arizona impact Vance's chances to be VP?

The Daily Mail's report seemed to strongly imply that the backing of opposing primary candidates in the Arizona House race could be a sticking point between Sen. Vance and former President Trump that could be a determining factor in Vance not being picked as Trump's running mate.

That may not be the case, though, as the dueling endorsements occurred months ago and Vance's stock as a top VP contender has only risen over time. Ironically enough, Vance once counted himself among the "Never Trump" camp in 2016 and was harshly critical of the then-candidate, but since then has become one of Trump's staunchest allies in the Senate and an ardent defender in the media.

In fact, USA Today reported this week that Vance was among a handful of prominent Republicans who showed up at the Manhattan courthouse where Trump is facing an unprecedented criminal trial to display his in-person support for the embattled former president.

His summation of the situation was that "the main goal of this trial is psychological torture," in that Trump was forced to sit there and listen to others lie about and smear him without the ability to respond -- to say nothing of being prevented from fully campaigning for the duration of the trial -- but that the former president was nonetheless "in great spirits."

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