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Photo Illustration: Donald Trump in front of the state of Ohio
Former President Donald Trump endorsed J.D. Vance in Ohio's GOP primary for U.S. Senate.MSNBC / Getty Images

J.D. Vance wins Trump’s endorsement after months of groveling

The former president announced his support for the U.S. Senate candidate to the ire of many Ohio Republicans.


After making Republicans grovel while seeking his endorsement in Ohio's GOP primary for U.S. Senate, former President Donald Trump decided to back author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance.

Vance once swore against Trump’s presidency and even wrote a controversial diagnoses of Trump voters, but he’s all in on Trump’s conspiratorial rhetoric now and has since apologized for his past comments.

That pitiful retreat, and the chance to bring a former nemesis to heel, is likely what drove Trump to consider endorsing Vance in the first place. 

“Like some others, J.D. Vance may have said some not so great things about me in the past, but he gets it now, and I have seen that in spades,” Trump said in a statement Friday. “He is our best chance for victory in what could be a very tough race.”

On Thursday, NBC News reported the mere idea of Vance receiving it over longtime Trump loyalists had driven some Ohio Republicans up a wall. Far-right Senate candidate Josh Mandel — known for almost fighting a primary opponent and repeatedly targeting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter on Twitter — was among those whose team made last-ditch attempts to get Trump to change his mind. 

Mandel’s campaign reportedly sent Trump’s team a poll showing he’d be leading the crowded field significantly if Trump endorsed him, while the same poll showed an endorsement for Vance only placed him in a tie for second — still behind Mandel. Despite parroting Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, as well as Trump’s racist stereotypes, there were signs in recent days Vance would be Trump's pick. 

Nonetheless, after NBC News reported on Trump’s expected endorsement on Thursday, several GOP officials in Ohio frantically sent a letter to Trump discouraging him from endorsing anyone in the crowded Senate primary. The letter, first obtained by Politico, was signed by dozens of local Republican officials who cite Vance’s past criticism of Trump as a disqualifier in the primary. 

“While we were working hard in Ohio to support you and Make America Great Again, JD Vance was actively working against your candidacy,” they claimed

Politico also said two Mandel donors pressed Trump for an endorsement at a recent campaign event for another Ohio lawmaker, but Trump reportedly said the sight of Mandel almost fighting a nearly-70-year-old man was “embarrassing.” 

Before last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, Trump encouraged his followers to “fight like hell” for him. Evidently, that wasn’t permission for them to nearly come to blows during their own Senate campaigns. Either way, in the battle for Trump's love, Mandel was bested by J.D. Vance, a superior groveler.