'Hillbilly Elegy' 's J.D. Vance, Who Changed His Mind on 'Never Trump,' Wins Primary with Help from Trump

Meanwhile, a Democrat in Michigan scored an upset in a state legislature election by defeating Republican Robert Regan, who whipped up intense backlash with his comments about rape

JD Vance, donald trump
Photo: Eli Hiller/Bloomberg via Getty

Hillbilly Elegy author, venture capitalist and first-time Republican candidate J.D. Vance won Ohio's Republican senate primary Tuesday — with help of his party's standard-bearer, Donald Trump.

The former president gave Vance, 37, his highly influential and sought-after endorsement in April, despite comments Vance had made about Trump during his 2016 presidential run.

"I'm a Never Trump guy," Vance said in an interview with Charlie Rose in 2016, according to Politico. "I never liked him."

Vance had also called Trump, 75, "unfit for our nation's highest office," "an idiot," "noxious" and "reprehensible," with policies that ranged from "immoral to absurd."

Trump, however, let bygones be bygones as Vance, for his part, refashioned himself publicly in the style of the former president, who then backed Vance in a statement and appeared with him at a rally.

"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," Trump said in April. "He is our best chance for victory in what could be a very tough race."

With a little more than 32 percent of the vote, Vance claimed victory over Josh Mandel, a former state treasurer, as well as state Sen. Matt Dolan and others.

"I thought this would feel good. It feels even better than I thought it would," Vance told supporters in a victory speech Tuesday. "I have absolutely got to thank the 45th, the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump."

Trump called Vance to congratulate him on his win, The Washington Post reports.

Vance will face Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in November's general election for a seat in the evenly divided Senate, CNN projected.

Also in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine defeated his Republican challengers in the gubernatorial primary. He will now face the winning Democrat, former Dayton mayor Nan Whaley, in November.

And President Joe Biden congratulated a candidate he endorsed, Rep. Shontel Brown, who defeated activist Nina Turner in an Ohio rematch between the Democrats on Tuesday.

"Shontel Brown's primary victory last night was an important step forward toward building a better Ohio and a better America," Biden said. "I'm proud of Shontel and her demonstrated record of fighting for the people of Ohio, and I thank her for her continued work in service to the American people."

In western Michigan, Robert Regan, a Republican candidate for state House District 74, lost the election to Democrat Carol Glanville in what The Detroit Free Press called an "upset."

robert regan
Robert Regan. JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty

Regan had whipped up intense backlash for a comment he had made about rape during a live event that streamed on Facebook in March, which he has said was misconstrued.

When a panelist said it was "too late" to continue challenging the 2020 presidential election results, Regan appeared to insinuate that "if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it."

He later clarified the remark on his campaign website, saying it was "intentionally truncated to make it look like I said one thing when in fact I was saying the exact opposite."

"Here are my exact words," he said. "'That's kind of like — I have three daughters, and I tell my daughters if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it. That is not how we roll. That is not how I won this election. We go right at it.'"

And in Indiana, former Vice President Mike Pence's older brother, Rep. Greg Pence, was victorious in his Republican primary on Tuesday.

greg pence
Rep. Greg Pence. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Trump backed the older Pence in his House re-election bid, despite the former president's criticism of his vice president for refusing to participate in a plan to overturn the 2020 election results.

"I'll stand by my brother now and forever. I love my brother. I'll stand by him," Greg told CNN in February, after his brother said in a speech that Trump was "wrong" to say the vice president had a right to reject electoral votes presented during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, because of baseless claims of fraud.

In endorsing Rep. Pence, Trump did not mention the vice president. "Congressman Greg Pence is doing a great job representing the people of Indiana's 6th Congressional District," Trump wrote. "He is Strong on the Border, Protects Life, Defends the Second Amendment, and Supports our brave Military and Vets. Greg Pence has my Complete and Total Endorsement!"

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