JD Vance defeated Tim Ryan in the race for Ohio’s Senate seat this evening. With 93% of the vote tallied, Republican JD Vance defeated Democratic member of Congress Tim Ryan by 54% to 46%.
This seat became open when incumbent Republican Senator Rob Portman announced that he would not run for re-election.
Tim Ryan has represented Ohio’s 17th Congressional District from 2003 to 2013, after defeating both his Republican opponent and the previous Democratic incumbent for the seat, Jim Trafficant, who had been expelled from the House of Representatives after being convicted of various federal charges and who ran his independent campaign from prison. Since the reorganization of congressional districts in Ohio in 2011, Ryan has represented Ohio’s 13th Congressional District. He has typically supported conservative to moderate Democratic positions on various policy issues, and he challenged unsuccessfully for the position of Speaker of the House against Nancy Pelosi after the 2016 elections. He easily won election in the Democratic Senate primary.
The Republican candidate, J.D. Vance, is a lawyer, former venture capitalist and author of Hillbilly Elegy, a book recounting his youth and relating it to the problems affecting Appalachian white lower working class and poor people. He moved back to Ohio in 2016 and created a venture capital firm with support from Marc Andreessen and Peter Theil. (Theil has been a funder of a number of Republican congressional campaigns this election cycle.) When he ran for the Republican Senate primary, he was endorsed by Donald Trump, but it was very hard going in the seven-way race until the two then-leading candidates, Josh Mandel and Mike Gibbons, focused their attacks on one another, with Gibbons losing support afterward. Mandel then attacked rising candidate Matt Dolan, allowing Vance to slide by with a narrow victory.
Both campaigns were not afraid to provide hard-hitting messaging.
Ryan attacked Vance mercilessly for the failure and eventual closure of a nonprofit, Our Ohio Renewal, he had created to help Ohio residents regarding joblessness, addiction to opoids and resulting broken families, while at the same time hiring into the organization Dr. Sally Satel, who has questioned the role of prescription painkillers in the opioid crisis and who has close ties to Purdue Pharma, the producer of one of the worst addictive opioids, Oxycontin, which recently settled for a $6 billion settlement in return for no further lawsuits are charges against the company or its owners, the Sackler family. He also said that if Vance lost, he would go back to California or over to Washington DC, accentuating the impression that Vance was an opportunistic carpetbagger.
But its also hurt Ryan occasionally, as when he attacked Chinese manufacturing and received some backlash from Asian-American groups concerned that such comments would perpetuate or increase acts of violence against Asian-American individuals. Vance was not afraid to go further on the topic, at one point saying “We have to stop sending American jobs to people who hate us.”
Both have also been supporters of stricter immigration controls and border security, with Vance directly relating these issues to increased access to the deadly drug fentanyl and implying that the Biden administration deliberately allowed it to pass through the southern border as an opportunistic way to kill supporters of former President Donald Trump.
Both candidates and their campaigns accused their opponent of caring more about their national party than the needs of Ohio voters, Ryan tying Vance to former President Trump, radio host Alex Jones and the January 6th attack on the Capitol in Washington DC, and Vance tying Ryan to President Joe Biden and the cost of inflation on working families.