Republican JD Vance wins Ohio Senate race in crucial victory for GOP

Republicans fend off Tim Ryan’s attempt to capture seat in state Trump won twice

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 09 November 2022 04:41 GMT
From the House to the Senate: What’s at stake in the 2022 midterms?

Republican JD Vance has won the race for US senator in Ohio, a crucial battleground in the war for control of the upper chamber of Congress.

Mr Vance was leading his opponent, Congressman Tim Ryan, by 7 points when the race was called Tuesday evening. Held currently by retiring Senator Rob Portman, a Republican, Democrats ranked Ohio on a list of top targets for the night as they sought to expand a majority and potentially build the numbers to challenge the filibuster in the Senate.

A race that received national attention thanks to repeat appearances by former President Donald Trump in the state as well as Republican JD Vance’s semi-celebrity status, the Ohio Senate battle was nevertheless a sore spot for local Democrats who blamed their party’s national leaders for not stepping up and fighting Republican money being spent in the state.

The Hillbilly Ellegy author only slightly underperformed Mr Trump in the state; the ex-president won Ohio by 8 points in 2020 and 2016.

“We need better leadership in Washington DC and that's what I promised to fight for ever single day,” Mr Vance told a cheering crowd Tuesday evening after declaring victory.

Economic issues dominated the race thanks in no small part due to surging inflation, but abortion rights also rose in importance for voters following the overturning of Roe vs Wade by the Supreme Court earlier this year. Mr Ryan ran a campaign that sometimes involved him publicly opposing the policies of Mr Biden (and, more frequently, pointing it out): A necessity in a state Donald Trump won by eight points in two different elections. He was however quick to tout the investments the state received from an infrastructure package passed through the Senate in a moment of rare bipartisan action, as well as the CHIPS Act passed into law earlier this year as a means of boosting America’s production of semiconductor technology.

Mr Vance, meanwhile, closely aligned himself with Mr Trump and appeared alongside the ex-president at several rallies. His efforts to tie himself to the former president led to him being derided, very directly, as an ass-kisser by his opponent during their most recent debate. He made few attempts to pivot to the middle during his general election bid, instead appearing multiple times with the former president and staking out a hardline position on abortion rights.

Ohio’s Rust Belt mindset always meant that economic issues were going to play big here, especially in a year when working families and the most vulnerable continue to face the brunt of money troubles brought on by inflation and the closure of businesses due to Covid-19. The state’s northeastern region in particular has struggled to recover from the end of GM production at the famous Lordstown plant, outside of Youngstown, which at its peak employed thousands of Ohioans.

But the abortion rights issue also put the Buckeye State in the spotlight after a gut-wrenching story of a 10-year-old rape victim exposed the ugly reality of restrictions on abortion after it was reported that the girl in question had to flee to a nearby state to seek the procedure.

In the end, that issue failed to rally enough voters in the deepening-red state and Mr Vance only slightly underperformed Mr Trump in the race; like other US Senate nominees endorsed by Donald Trump, he suffered from “candidate quality” issues that many argued made the race unnecessarily close and raised the question of how well he would have done without perhaps the most support from the ex-president of any candidate this cycle. Voters perhaps were not eager to elect a third Joe Manchin/Kyrsten Sinema-esque figure to the Senate, whose only purpose seems to be blocking parts of Joe Biden’s agenda while offering little of their own in place.

Some Democrats aligned with Mr Ryan’s campaign complained openly throughout the campaign that the candidate was not receiving enough support from national Democratic groups even as the congressman himself spurned those same national Democrats and was eager to distance himself from a wide range of Democratic Party figures, from Mr Biden to Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The GOP will now rest easy knowing that the Democratic plan to expand their Senate majority has been halted in at least one state though it appears that the party is not seeing similar luck in Pennsylvania, where Dr Mehmet Oz is trying to help the party retain a seat help by a retiring GOP senator, Pat Toomey, and the party’s efforts to unseat Raphael Warnock in Georgia are flagging as well.

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