Trump Endorses Never-Trump Candidate J.D. Vance in Ohio Senate Race

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Former President Donald Trump ignored loyal followers in Ohio and announced he is endorsing “Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance in the state’s Republican Senate primary. The decision left many loyal supporters baffled.

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In a statement, Trump described Vance as “the candidate most qualified and ready to win in November.”

“We cannot play games. It is all about winning!” he wrote.

The decision is a major blow for former state treasurer Josh Mandel, investment banker Mike Gibbons and former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken, who have been locked in a heated and contentious race for both the nomination and Trump’s backing in a primary that is now less than three weeks away.

Among those who strongly objected to the endorsement was Rep. Jim Jordan, NBC News Reports.

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On Thursday night, dozens of Republican leaders in Ohio mounted a last-minute effort to urge Trump not to endorse Vance following a news report that said Trump was planning to do just that.

“JD Vance will still lose even with President Trump’s endorsement. JD Vance is widely known by Republican Primary voters for his Never-Trumper comments and his calling Trump supporters ‘racists,’” Titus Bond, the Remington Research Group president, wrote in the memo. “Since he is already known to Ohioans as a self-proclaimed ‘Never Trumper’ and voters will forcefully be reminded of that, Vance will still lose even with President Trump’s endorsement.”

The New York Times best-selling author has come under fire for old audio and since-deleted tweets in which he called himself a “never-Trump guy,” called Trump an idiot, and said he might have to hold his nose and vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, the Associated Press reported.

Politico reports more than three dozen county GOP chairs and state party central committee members — including some from the state’s most populous counties — also banded together to sign a letter urging Trump not to endorse Vance, noting that he “referred to your supporters as ‘racists’ and proudly voted for Evan McMullin in 2016.”

“While we were working hard in Ohio to support you and Make America Great Again,” they wrote in a letter obtained by POLITICO, “JD Vance was actively working against your candidacy.”