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Backed By $10 Million From Peter Thiel, J.D. Vance Considering Ohio Senate Bid

A super PAC that is seeking to elect author J.D. Vance to the Senate from Ohio received $10 million this week from billionaire Peter Thiel.


J.D. Vance, the author of the acclaimed novel “Hillbilly Elegy” that sat atop The New York Times Bestsellers list in 2016 and 2017, has confirmed that he is considering a run for the Senate. In an interview with The Daily Wire published on Thursday, Vance discussed his potential platform.

“One of the tasks for the Republican Party is to turn the grassroots energy around protecting American manufacturing jobs into a long-term policy agenda that can accomplish that,” Vance said.

“I think that too often people on the right ignore the fact that there are real hardships out there, and we’ve got to make life as easy for people as we can,” he continued. “And people on the left too often want to treat people as these sort of, like, completely without agency animals who are victims of social forces beyond their control, and if you’re not giving them the right government support they’re not going to have any chance at life. And that’s just not how most people think of their lives.”

The 36-year-old author and venture capitalist, whose memoir describes his journey from working-class Appalachia to Yale Law School, joined the board of a new nonprofit called American Moment. The organization leans into America First-populism.

Vance’s political aspirations have been thrust into the public eye after it was reported on Monday that billionaire PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel donated $10 million to a Political Action Committee seeking to boost him to the Senate. The super PAC, Protect Ohio Values, claims that “J.D. Vance is the right man for the job.”

In January, Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced he would not be seeking reelection in 2022. Portman first took office in 2010, succeeding Sen. George Voinovich—the 65th governor of Ohio. Portman, a member of both President Bush administrations, cited “partisan gridlock” as his rationale for leaving government.

The opening may seem workable for Vance, whose book was then made into a Netflix film, but the race is expected to be crowded. State Treasurer Josh Mandel and former GOP chair Jane Timken have already entered the race. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, state Health Department Director Amy Acton, former state Treasurer Kevin Boyce, and state House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes are all reportedly nearing campaign announcements.

“Very soon, I will say, there will be a decision that will be made,” Ryan said in early March.

Vance accented the ensuing immigration crisis to The Daily Wire. Ohio embraced Trump’s law and order stance by 53.3 percent in the 2020 presidential election, up from 51.3 percent in 2016.

“We have a crisis at the southern border invited by the Biden administration’s policies,” Vance said. “If you want people to live a secure middle-class lifestyle, I think one of the things you have to have is a border, because when you don’t have a border, you have meth and heroin coming into people’s communities. You have lower-wage immigrants competing for their jobs. Both from a material perspective — people want to have good jobs and good wages, but also just from being safe in their own communities.”

According to senior Washington Examiner political columnist Tim Carney in his 2019 book, “Alienated America,” “Hillbilly Elegy …became a bestseller in 2016 because it offered insight into a part of the country that the educated and affluent had missed,” which led to the election of Donald Trump. The elites have since considered Vance a rabble-whisperer.