It will indeed test how much a Trump endorsement means to candidates such as J.D. Vance for the Ohio Senate. Because with less than a month out from the May 3rd primary election, J.D. Vance is fighting with several other candidates for the old Rob Portman seat, and among them, Mike Gibbons appears by polling to be in the lead. I have been on the fence with Jane Timken, Josh Mandel, and J.D. Vance from the beginning of the race. I’ve come to know all of them, and I like them. Mike Gibbons, for me, was a distant fourth place; he is way too squishy for me. But he’s not the worst in the world. For me, this race came down to who would be a good fighter who would push back against Mitch McConnell for the leadership role again and who could fight with MAGA in the senate and start to turn the tide in ways that Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have not yet managed to accomplish. I’ve had my eye on Josh Mandel for that kind of combat. He’s shown that he’s willing to fight and make things uncomfortable for opponents, which I think the next senate term will need. But obviously, Trump has other ideas. I’m sure Marjorie Taylor Green’s endorsement of J.D. Vance helped Trump’s decision, along with his son, Don Jr., and the billionaire tycoon, Peter Theil. I see a strategy evolving, and J.D. Vance wouldn’t be bad for that strategy, so while I was surprised to see President Trump endorse anybody in the senate race, particularly J.D. Vance, the overall strategy could be a good one. And it says a lot about what kind of message Trump intends to sell about his next term and the kind of America we are likely to be when we get there.
J.D. Vance has been a never-Trumper, much like Glenn Beck was. Trump has come around to forgiving Beck. It has taken me longer to even listen to Beck again, sometimes, because of how he was against Trump in 2016. Things were very personal back then. I was one of the few people who openly supported Trump during the Republican primary, and I remember what people said and did against him. I was not for the Trump dinner endorsement with Mitt Romney, which turned out to be such a disaster. As much as I like him, Trump has a personality trait that some might call a weakness; he wants to convert people over to his way of thinking. He likes to be liked, although he doesn’t let being liked alter his management style. So, he gets away with a weakness for love of likeability, and the J.D. Vance story is one of those Trump success stories. Does it look better in 2024 to put people close to you from the beginning, like Jane Timken or Josh Mandel, or to convert a friend from Never-Trumper to ally in the senate? Trump thinks the conversion is better. I think the loyalty is. I would have picked Josh Mandel if I was Trump because he was always with Trump, even when it wasn’t popular in 2016.
But Trump has plenty of people in his camp who were loyal when it was hard. What will likely mean more in uniting the country after the 2022 midterms shows that people who used to not like Trump are suddenly very pro-Trump, and that is what J.D. Vance has been? I’ve met J.D. Vance a few times through a very dear friend where I could talk to him personally. He’s a very nice young man who certainly has the kind of tenacity that you’d like to see representing Ohio in the senate. The movie based on his life, Hillbilly Elegy, and the book he wrote of the same title tells a very compelling story of a struggling blue-collar family from my backyard of Middletown, Ohio, that I think will keep Vance from being pulled into any corruption in Washington D.C. J.D. Vance doesn’t need politics to define him as a person, which I can’t say the same about Rob Portman in the beginning. I was with Portman when he first started; he needed politics to define him as a person. I set up the WLW interview where Portman debated a similar panel of Republicans all wanting to take a vacating House seat back in 1993 when his political career was just starting. I wondered about Portman even back then. He said all the right things. He hung around with the disparaged Ross Perot supporters as kind of a fringe Reform Party candidate. But as we saw over the next several decades, he became one of the biggest RINOs in Ohio. He worked too well with the far-left progressive Sharrod Brown. Obviously, we’d like to seem more of a fighter than a bridgebuilder for his replacement.
When it comes to politics, it’s always about how the game will be played, not necessarily how it is played today. With what we know, election fraud, government corruption, and globalism on every front, we are shocked to see what we always suspected was just under the surface. Trump looks to have a clear strategy for tackling the problem of Saving America. Not just Making it Great Again, but saving it from all three branches of government led by a knowledgeable executive branch, where an understanding of trade tariffs will be critical to those battles to come. Perhaps J.D. Vance will be able to go on prime-time television and sell just how America can get 10 trillion dollars in damages from China to begin to pay for the massive damage to our economy from the Covid attack. Or perhaps J.D. Vance will be another Romney dud. Whatever the case, what’s clear is that Trump isn’t playing it safe. If Trump wanted to show how many victories he could get with his endorsement, J.D. Vance was not the safe pick. It’s somewhat risky.
It should be an exciting primary. Trump’s visit to Delaware, Ohio, will undoubtedly help get voters out in what is typically a lite primary election. And higher voters mean more votes for the fewer establishment candidates, which is a marvelous thing. We should all be much better off than when we started the year. With a higher turnout, we’ll have a more representative government, so however things come out on the 3rd, we’ll have a good idea of how 2022 will shape up. Trump could have played it safe and stayed out of the primary until the results were announced, then supported the Republican, whoever it ended up being. But by picking J.D. Vance, he decided to make a high stake bet. And that is something I can respect, even if J.D. Vance wasn’t my pick. I can appreciate the chance Trump is willing to make when he didn’t need to make it. If he were a typical politician playing politics the way it is typically played, such an endorsement never would have happened. And since it did, we can at least see that Trump isn’t afraid to roll the dice for a big jackpot. And the winner of this jackpot means nothing less than Saving America for generations to come.