Trump backs J.D. Vance in crowded Ohio Senate race as GOP rivals push against endorsement

On Friday, former President Donald Trump gave an official endorsement to J.D. Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” for Ohio’s Senate Republican primary, adding that Vance is “the candidate most qualified and ready to win in November.”

NBC first reported on Thursday that Trump was preparing the endorsement but had been holding off because of pressure from the rival Republican campaigns of Josh Mandel and Jane Timken.

“I’ve studies this race closely and I think J.D. is the most likely to take out the weak, but dangerous, Democrat opponent – dangerous because they will have so much money to spend. However, J.D. will destroy him in debates and will fight for the MAGA Movement in the Senate,” Trump said in a statement, referencing Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democratic challenger. 

While giving his statement, Trump encouraged “the entire MAGA movement” to “unite behind J.D.’s campaign,” but fellow Republican challenger Mandel said he does not have plans to go anywhere else.

“I continue to be a proud supporter of President Trump and the America First agenda. I look forward to earning his endorsement in the general election and working with him to defeat Tim Ryan in November,” Mandel posted to Twitter after the former president’s announcement.

A source familiar with Mandel’s campaign noted that they had attempted to push Trump away from endorsing Vance by letting him in on an internal poll that indicated Mandel would take the front of the field with 33 percent of the vote if he received Trump’s endorsement.

Mandel would then be followed by Matt Dolan and Mike Gibbons tied at 15 percent. Then Vance and Timken with 9 percent each. According to the poll, Vance would only go up to 15 percentage points at most.

Because the May 3 primary is winner-take-all, the candidate with the most votes will head to the general election in November.




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