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Ohio GOP leaders seek to block Trump’s endorsement of Vance

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Dozens of Republican leaders in Ohio are making a last-minute effort to urge former President Donald Trump not to support “Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance in the crowded upcoming primary for an open Senate seat.

A draft letter circulating among Republicans and seen by The Associated Press urges Trump to remain neutral in the race. It was written after a news report that Trump would back Vance, a move the former president has yet to take.

But the letter is a sign of concern from some Republicans over which candidate Trump may pick ahead of the May 3 state primary. Vance has come under particular scrutiny from some of Trump’s most staunch supporters for their past criticism of the former president, which Republicans highlighted in their letter.

In bullet points, they remind Trump of Vance’s previous comments, including references to potentially supporting Hillary Clinton and comparing the former president to “another opioid.”

“We know there are many qualified candidates in this race who have championed America First’s agenda over the years and have worn the Trump mantle over the years, again with the notable exception of JD Vance,” they wrote you. “While we have been working hard in Ohio to support you and Make America Great Again, JD Vance has been actively working against your candidacy.”

The letter, signed by GOP party leaders, including a number of precinct chairmen, tells the former president that “an endorsement that compromises your support and heritage in Ohio will only serve to confuse or anger voters” and possibly even suppressed Republican turnout.

OUT OF CAMERA FILE – JD Vance, the venture capitalist and author of "hillbilly elegy," speaks at a rally Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Middletown, Ohio, where he announced he is joining the crowded Republican race for the Ohio U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rob Portman. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
OUT OF CAMERA FILE – JD Vance, the venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” speaks at a rally in Middletown, Ohio on Thursday, July 1, 2021 where he announced he was joining the crowded Republican race for the election Ohio US Senate seat vacated by Rob Portman. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Representatives for Trump and Vance, who said he regrets his earlier comments, did not respond to requests for comment.

Columbiana County Republican Party leader David Johnson, who helped draft and distribute the letter, said the effort came together Thursday in a series of phone calls between party leaders.

Johnson, who backed former Ohio Republican Party leader Jane Timken for the Senate, said the letter has now been signed by 40 to 50 people, including Timken supporters, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons and state senator Matt Dolan. Two more candidates round out a seven-man primary to replace Republican US Senator Rob Portman.

“We all think it’s just not smart to win that seat. That’s the goal,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vance supporters urged Trump to stay with him.

“President Trump would make a fantastic choice if he endorsed JD Vance,” said Marshall Pitchford, chairman of Ohio Right to Life. “JD is invariably 100% pro-life. He will continue President Trump’s pro-life victories in the US Senate.”

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-jd-vance-ohio-endorsement_n_6259d758e4b0e97a351e6a2d Ohio GOP leaders seek to block Trump’s endorsement of Vance

Mike Fahey

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