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Trump-endorsed JD Vance wins Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senate primary

Republican Senate candidate JD Vance greets supporters at the Save America Rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio. Former President Donald Trump (not pictured) spoke later in the day to endorse Republican candidates and urge voter turnout ahead of the May 3 Ohio primary.
Joe Maiorana
JD Vance greets supporters at the Save America Rally at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio.

Updated May 3, 2022 at 10:16 p.m.

Venture capitalist and Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance wins the Republican nomination for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat.

The one-time critic of former President Trump has taken a softer view of him, and was endorsed by Trump weeks before the primary election.

Ohio's crowded Republican race for U.S. Senate also featured State Senator Matt Dolan, Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, Columbus businessman Neil Patel, Columbus businessman Mark Pukita, and former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken.

Most of the candidates vigorously fought for the endorsement of former President Donald Trump who eventually threw his support behind Vance. The endorsement caused an uproar among some Ohio conservatives who have said they won’t vote for Vance and are now threatening they won’t back Trump either.

"In the Great State of Ohio, the candidate most qualified and ready to win in November is J.D. Vance. We cannot play games. It is all about winning!" Trump wrote in his endorsement.

Trump joined Vance during a rally in Delaware less than two weeks before election day.

Vance was once considered a "Never Trumper" and had said during the 2016 presidential race that he "might have to hold his nose and vote for Hillary Clinton" instead of Trump. During the campaign, Vance walked those statements back and apologized for his previous criticisms.

"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," wrote Trump

The Republican U.S. Senate primary was also the most expensive in Ohio history with the candidates spending more than $65 million on their campaigns.

The Club for Growth and other pro-Mandel super PACs spent nearly $14 million dollars. The pro-Vance super PAC Protect Ohio Values was on the air too, spending more than $9 million.

Mandel was spending $5.25 million while Vance was spending $1.65 million. Gibbons spent about $13 million, nearly all his campaign money and around three quarters of a million from a super PAC. Dolan was spending $8.5 million, with another $3 million in outside super PAC support. Jane Timken was spending $4.2 million, along with $1.5 million of outside money.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.