The Ohio GOP Senate Primary Is an Embarrassing Spectacle
A crowded field is competing to replace Sen. Rob Portman (R–Ohio), who will retire when his term ends next year. Among the Republicans currently campaigning for their party’s nomination are former state Treasurer Josh Mandel and Hillbilly Elegy memoirist J.D. Vance. The race has laid bare some ugly aspects of our political moment.
Mandel previously ran, twice, against Ohio’s other senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown. Vance, a Yale-educated lawyer turned Silicon Valley venture capitalist, has no previous political experience, but he does have the backing of former boss and fellow venture capitalist Peter Thiel. One thing the two candidates have in common is the utter shamelessness with which they stumble over themselves trying to appeal to former President Donald Trump’s voting base.
Vance, who infamously insisted in 2016 that he would “never vote for Trump,” said after launching his Senate campaign this summer that since Trump is “the leader of this movement…I need to just suck it up and support him.” Since then, he has moved deeper and deeper into the authoritarian nationalist wing of the American right, whose members want to use state power to bend society to their will. Last month, for example, he declared that nonprofits like the Ford Foundation are “fundamentally cancers on society” and called for the government to “seize…their assets” and redistribute the proceeds.
Yet Mandel apparently considers Vance a squish, calling him “a RINO and
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