In US Republican primary elections, Trump emerges as kingmaker
Trump's chosen candidate, Hillbilly Elegy author and one-time investment banker J.D. Vance, won the crowded Republican primary for US Senate in Ohio
The primary elections in Ohio and Indiana on Tuesday stood as the first real test of former US president Donald Trump's status as the Republican Party kingmaker and he passed.
Trump's chosen candidate, Hillbilly Elegy author and one-time investment banker J.D. Vance, won the crowded Republican primary for US Senate in Ohio, giving Trump a strong beginning to primary season.
Vance, former State Treasurer Josh Mandel, businessman Mike Gibbons and former state GOP chair Jane Timken all vied for Trump's endorsement, increasingly adopting language that mirrored the former president's bombastic, populist style.
In the end, Trump went with Vance, who in 2016 said the celebrity businessman could become America's Hitler but has since become an avid supporter.
Vance wooed the former president by echoing his bashing of immigrants, skepticism about US military involvement overseas even in support of Ukraine and lies about Trump's defeat in the 2020 election.
Lagging in the polls when he received Trump's endorsement three weeks ago, Vance made it a centerpiece of his closing pitch and vaulted ahead of his rivals.
Vance will face Democratic US Rep. Tim Ryan in November's general election as they compete for the seat held by retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman.
Trump won Ohio by eight percentage points in 2020, and the state has swung to the right under his influence.
Replacing Portman, a traditional Republican and no fan of Trump's, with Vance would move the Senate further in the former president's direction.
Ohio's Republican primary still shows the power that Trump has on his party's base. An AP-NORC poll last year found two-thirds of Republicans believe Biden was not legitimately elected, even though the contest was free of any significant voter fraud and repeated investigations, audits and court cases have disproved Trump's claims.