Director of Venture Capital and Hillbilly elegy Author JD Vance officially announced his long-awaited Senate campaign on Thursday in 2022. He joins a select group of pro-Trump conservatives vying for the Ohio seat currently held by Republican Rob Portman, who is retiring after two terms.
“We need people in Washington, DC who know how the system works, who know how to reform this system and even make this country a better place,” Vance said. “And that is why I am running to be your next United States Senator from the State of Ohio.”
Vance, a Yale law graduate and self-proclaimed working-class hero, made the announcement at Middletown Tube Works in his hometown of Middletown, Ohio, speaking from behind a lectern adorned with a campaign sign labeling the candidate as “Conservative. Outsider. ”(The sign fell from the lectern in the middle of the speech, moments before Vance made his official statement.)
He drew a hard line between the working class and the elites, attacking “Big Tech” and industrial outsourcing. And while Vance sold himself as an insider who knew how to change those systems, he also drew on his working-class past, often remembering his childhood lessons from his critically acclaimed blue-collar memoir.
One of the most central elements, however, was his grievance that the Conservatives are “not allowed to complain,” a phrase he repeated throughout, attaching him to criticism of immigration, technology companies, the critical theory of race and corruption.
“If you look at every problem in this country, every problem, I believe, goes back to that fact. On the one hand, the elites of this country are stealing from us blindly; and on the other hand, if you complain about it, you are a bad person, ”he said.
The cure, he said, is foreigners who are also insiders, “people who understand how the elites are plundering this country and then blaming us in the process.”
But Vance is perhaps particularly vulnerable on this precise point. His resume features stints at investment firms run by founding members of Facebook and America Online, and his candidacy has been bolstered by millions of corporate dollars.
And, if corruption is an issue, one of the first recruits to her own campaign seems to have had a front-row seat in the swampiest corruption scandal in Ohio history.
According to Cleveland.com, Vance chose Bryan Gray as his political director. Gray served as deputy chief of staff to former Ohio House Republican President Larry Householder, who was indicted last July as the leader of the $ 60 million corruption scheme. Householder is accused of using a super PAC to funnel tens of millions of dollars from a private utility company to political allies in exchange for a $ 1.5 billion legislative bailout for nuclear power plants owned by the company.
An indicted lobbyist alongside Householder then identified Gray, who resigned after Householder’s arrest, as the anonymous staff member who attended a dinner detailed in the indictment. Prosecutors had quoted the staff member as saying: “[W]What we need to make them understand is that you [Householder] can’t be screwed with. And the Cincinnati Enquirer reported in July that a Republican state lawmaker who subsequently denounced Householder placed Gray in a separate meeting, in which the whistleblower first realized that Householder ran a pay-to-play program.
Gray declined to comment for this article.
That lawmaker also named another Vance connection at the meeting: Megan Fitzmartin, who, according to a fundraising email, is now the political director of Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC supporting Vance. At the time, Fitzmartin reportedly worked for one of the lobbyists also indicted in the scandal.
Protect Ohio Values did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
This super PAC has already reaped some great prizes from mega-donors. Peter Thiel, a Facebook board member who co-founded PayPal and data firm Palantir, which law enforcement has exploited in surveillance efforts, donated $ 10 million to PAC in March. . Thiel hired Vance out of law school at his investment firm Mithra Capital and then contributed seed money to Vance’s own Ohio-based venture capital firm.
Yet in recent tweets and media appearances, the author has taken aim at vintage Trump targets, including Big Tech, immigration policy, and the current notorious conservative cause, Critical Race Theory. And his announcement on Thursday was riddled with attacks on these
Although Vance only registered four percent in a recent poll, Republicans in Ohio have indicated they view the nationally recognized perpetrator as a viable threat. He’s already been the subject of two blasts of anonymous texting to state GOP voters, the most recent attacking him as “Never Trumper.”
But while Vance is banking on an endorsement from Trump himself, his work history may not be his biggest obstacle. As the New York Times called Hillbilly elegy “One of the six best books to help understand Trump’s victory,” Vance himself did not help elect Trump in 2016. He voted for Utah libertarian candidate Evan McMullin.
At one point, he deleted the evidence.