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Who is JD Vance? | wkyc.com

Vance, who comes from southern Ohio, says many people feel left behind after politicians failed to deliver prosperity to their communities.

TOLEDO, Ohio — An acclaimed author has put his name in the running to replace Rob Portman in the U.S. Senate.

JD Vance, author of the best-selling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, announced his candidacy this week at a steel factory in his hometown of Middletown, Ohio.

Vance is up against 6 other names in the hotly contested race to become the Republican nominee in next year’s general election.

The others include former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken, Bernie Moreno, and Michael Gibbons.

RELATED: Who’s in, who’s out? A running list of the possible contenders for Ohio’s soon-to-be open seat in the U.S. Senate

All seven candidates are clamoring for the coveted ‘Trump vote’ after he prevailed in Ohio the last two presidential cycles.

WTOL 11 asked Vance why he thinks he’s able to relate to Ohio voters who identify as Republicans.

“On one hand you have a leadership class in this country who failed to deliver prosperity for a lot of people in this country,” said Vance. “When people complain about it, they’re accused of being idiots or xenophobes or racists. It’s a way of silencing people who just care about their country and want their voices heard.”

Vance says politicians seemed to give up on southern Ohio, and he had an up-close look at the disintegration of that community.

That lead to Vance writing his best-selling memoir Hillbilly Elegy. That book was turned into a Netflix movie of the same name last year.

RELATED: Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan to seek open US Senate seat in Ohio

During the height of the book’s popularity, Vance was colloquially known as the Trump Whisperer by critics who said Vance could explain why Middletown and the surrounding areas showed up in droves to vote for President Trump.

“Trump was just talking about real issues,” said Vance. “And whether you agreed or disagreed with the president I think most people recognized that he actually identified something real in our country, which is that a lot of the communities feel like they’ve been left behind, because they have been left behind.”

President Trump has kept unusually silent on the Ohio U.S. Senate race.

Cincinnati Public Radio recently pointed out that none of the candidates running for the Republican nomination were mentioned in Trump’s speech in Wellington, Ohio last weekend.

Trump has not indicated if he would eventually be endorsing a candidate in the Senate race. As of Trump’s speech however, Vance had not yet announced his candidacy.

The Ohio Democratic Party has chimed in on the attempts of the Republicans to woo Trump voters and Trump himself.

After Vance’s announcement, they released a statement that reads:

“Every week, these GOP candidates sink lower and lower in a desperate attempt to serve their own interests rather than the interests of the Ohio voter. They’re no longer just embarrassing themselves, they’re embarrassing our state and Ohio voters deserve better.”

On the Democratic side, Congressman Tim Ryan is the only candidate who has formally declared a run for the nomination.

JD Vance is also a veteran of the Marine Corps and founder of a venture capital fund, Narya, that invests in startup businesses in under-served cities.

The primary for the Republican nomination will be held in 2022.

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