Trump’s preferred candidate comes from behind to win primary in Ohio

Analysis: Result for JD Vance suggests Trump still has power to sway supporters

Some described it as being less like an election and more like an audition.

Such were the efforts made by a number of the contenders in the Republican Party's primary election for a Senate seat in Ohio to secure the affections of Donald Trump.

In the end Trump showed that despite the criticism over the January 6th riots at the US Capitol, investigations into his business affairs and his actions following the 2020 presidential election, he still retains the power to sway the views of his base.

Trump’s preferred candidate in Ohio, the author and venture capitalist JD Vance, who appeared to be languishing down the field a number of weeks ago, surged ahead on foot of the former president’s endorsement and won comfortably on Tuesday night with just under one third of the vote.


Primary elections in the US determine who will run for a party against their political opponents in the main elections, which take place next November.

Vance will now face Democratic congressman Tim Ryan, who won that party's primary election on Tuesday night.

Donald Trump had positioned himself as something of the kingmaker in the Republican Party ahead of the start of the primary election season, offering backing to those who were loyal to him and who supported his unsubstantiated claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

The Republican primary in Ohio is estimated to have been the most expensive contest of its type in the history of the state. The five main candidates and the groups backing them are believed to have between them spent about $65 million (€62 million).

The race proved to be a tough affair, with a number of candidates appearing to be competing publicly for Trump’s backing, imitating his America-first rhetoric and supporting his contentions about the 2020 election. Two candidates almost came to blows during a debate at one stage.


Ultimately it was Vance, author of the best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy about growing up in poverty in Ohio, who received Trump's endorsement. Vance was also supported by Trump's son Donald jnr and received strong financial backing from conservative tech billionaire Peter Thiel.

However, Trump appeared to get confused about who he was supporting at a rally last weekend when he referred to his chosen candidate as "JD Mandel" – apparently mixing up Vance with his main rival, the former Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel.

Trump’s intervention changed the dynamic in the race and electrified Vance’s campaign, which had appeared to be struggling up to that point.

It was all the more surprising as Vance had made a dramatic conversion over recent years from being a staunch critic of Trump to being one of the strongest champions of the former president.

He has strongly opposed globalisation and free trade agreements that resulted in manufacturing jobs leaving Ohio for Mexico and China.

In the final week of campaigning Vance was joined by two far-right members of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida.

Vance’s closest rival was Mandell, who had campaigned on a platform that seemed straight from the Trump playbook. He condemned critical race theory, open borders and Hollywood liberal elites, and proposed celebrating Earth Day by “building more pipelines”.

Mandell, who had been backed by right-wing senator Ted Cruz, had been seen as the frontrunner in the race prior to Trump opting for Vance. Projections estimated he won about 24 per cent of the vote.

In third place was Matt Dolan, who distanced himself most from Trump although supported some of his policies. Dolan urged Trump to "move on" from the 2020 election.

Dolan’s campaign appeared to have been picking up steam in the final days but projections estimated that he would receive 22 per cent.

Dolan’s family own the Cleveland Guardians baseball team. A recent decision to change from its previous name of the “Indians” led to charges by some conservatives that they had bowed to political correctness.

Trump maintained that as a result of the name change, Dolan should not be running for the Senate.