Nov. 8, 2022 U.S. Senate













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+JD Vance (R)
Tim Ryan (D)
write-ins (5)


Registered voters: 8,029,950.  Ballots counted: 4,201,368.
Plurality: 252,625 votes (6.11 percentage points).
OH Secretary of State

: Sen. Rob Portman (R), first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, announced on Jan. 25, 2021 that he would not seek a third term (+).  After an epic contest, venture capitalist and "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance emerged as the winner of the Republican Primary and then defeated U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D) in the general election (1, 2).

After the May 3 primary the stage was set for what looked to be a costly, negative six-month general election campaign between Vance and Ryan. 

Ryan, first elected to Congress in 2002 at age 29, represents OH-13 centered on Youngstown.  He previously served in the Ohio Senate, has authored two books, "Healing America" and "The Real Food Revolution," ran for Speaker against Nancy Pelosi in 2016 and made a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2019 (+).

Vance is just 38 years old.  After high school, he served in the Marines as a correspondent during the Iraq War, then did his undergraduate studies at O
hio State University and earned his law degree from Yale Law School.  He worked for venture capitalist Peter Thiel at Mithral Capital.  In 2016 his book "Hillbilly Elegy" attracted considerable notice.

Vance appeared to have an edge in that Trump carried Ohio twice, by 8.03 percentage points in 2020 and by 8.13 percentage points in 2016.
  However, he was a first-time candidate and he did seem to get off to a slow start after the primary, making sporadic appearances and lagging in fundraising. 

Former President Trump rallied with Vance "and the entire Ohio Trump Ticket" in Youngstown on Sept. 17 (>), and rallied with "Trump Endorsed America First candidates" including Vance at Dayton International Airport on the evening of Nov. 7 (>).  The choice of Ohio as the location for his Election Eve rally suggested Trump had confidence in the outcome. 
Vance's billionaire backer Thiel also appeared confident as the fall campaign progressed, foregoing late investments in the Ohio race.
Vance and Ryan debated twice: at FOX 8 studios (Nexstar Media)  in Cleveland on Oct. 10 (1, 2), and hosted by WFMJ at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown on Oct. 17 (>).  In addition, Ryan and Vance appeared back to back in a Fox News Channel town hall on Nov. 1.

Ryan sought to appeal to Trump voters and was critical of national Democrats.  As the campaign progressed, this approach attracted national attention.  Would it work?  Could he win?  He did not win and the result was not as close as polls had suggested, but the 6.11 percentage point margin was much closer than, for example, the 25.03 percentage point margin in the governor's race.

The Ryan campaign raised $56.4 million, spent $56.0 million and had cash on hand of $365,191 compared to just $15.1 million raised, $14.1 million spent and $992,334 in cash on hand for the Vance campaign (>).  However, outside spending strongly favored Vance.  The top spender was the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund at $32.5 million; by contrast, the top spending Democratic-aligned group, Save America Fund super PAC, spent $7.6 million. 

The Epic Republican Primary
[primary literature]
The May 3 Republican primary campaign was one for the ages.  Five major candidates and two lesser knowns vied for the nomination.  The
top story line throughout much of the race was the question of which candidate would gain the endorsement of former President Trump (and what effect that would have)?  Although Vance had been sharply critical of Trump in past, Trump ultimately endorsed him on April 15 (+), less than three weeks before the primary.  Trump rallied with Vance and other candidates he had endorsed in Delaware, OH on Apr. 23 (1, 2). The endorsement turned the race; Vance who had been lagging, went on to win with 32.2% of the vote (>). 

Former Treasurer Josh Mandel, who served two terms as Treasurer from Jan. 2011 to Jan. 2019 and was the Republican nominee against Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2012, finished second with 23.9%.  Mandel, whose major backers included the Club for Growth and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), was seen as the frontrunner for much of the race.

State Sen. Matt Dolan, an attorney from Chagrin Falls, who is part of the family that owns the Cleveland Guardians Major League Baseball team and who stood apart from the field as a Trump critic (+), enjoyed a late surge to finish third with 23.3%

Investment banker Mike Gibbons, who also sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2018, finishing second with 31.69% (243,426 votes), finished fourth with 11.7%

Jane Timken, former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, who received the endorsement of Sen. Portman on Feb. 16, finished fifth with 5.9%.

Rounding out the field of seven candidates were Mark Pukita (2.1%) and Neil Patel (0.9%).

One major candidate dropped out before the primary; on Feb. 3, after meeting with Trump, blockchain executive and luxury car dealer Bernie Moreno ended his campaign, vowing to support whichever candidate Trump backed.
The five major candidates engaged in a number of debates and forums including FreedomWorks, Nexstar, Ohio Debate Commission, WLWT.  Mandel and Gibbons almost came to blows at the FreedomWorks forum on March 18.

Money was a very significant story in this race. 
Five campaigns spent more than $1 million, and several of the candidates self financed their campaigns to a significant degree.  As of April 13, the Gibbons campaign spent $17.2 million, Dolan $8.3 million, Timken $7.0 million, Mandel $5.6 million and Vance $1.8 million.  However these numbers only tell part of the story.  Outside spending topped $40 million, a record according to Open Secrets. Politico reported that billionaire Peter Thiel spent $15 million in support of Vance, "the largest amount ever given to boost a single Senate candidate."  Club for Growth, which supported Mandel, spent millions attacking Vance.  All told, according to Open Secrets (>), seven groups spent more than $1 million: Protect Ohio Values PAC ($13.9M), Club for Growth Action ($8.2M), USA Freedom Fund (5.5M), Ohio Leads PAC ($3.4M), Buckeye Leadership Fund ($2.9M), WFW Action Fund ($2.0M) and Republican Party of Shelby County, OH ($1.4M).
While Republicans were battling, the Democratic race was not competitive; Rep. Tim Ryan, handily won the primary with 69.7% of the vote against two opponents. 

Campaign Managers:
J.D. Vance:  Jordan Wiggins
Deputy chief of staff of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission from Jan. 2019.  Deputy campaign manager on Ron DeSantis for Governor campaign, 2018.  Campaign manager on Catherine Templeton's campaign for governor of South Carolina to Nov. 2017.  National field director for the NRCC in the 2016 cycle.  Iowa field director (May 2015-Feb. 2016) then Virginia state director and Florida deputy state director on Marco Rubio for President.  Political coordinator at American Crossroads, Feb. 2013-April 2015.  Virginia volunteer director on Romney for President, May-Nov. 2012.  Staff assistant to Sen. Richard Lugar, Jan. 2011-May 2012.  Bachelor's degree in international relations and affairs from Western Michigan University, 2009.

Tim Ryan:  Dave Chase 
Campaign manager on Jeff Merkley for Oregon, 2020.  Campaign manager on Kirkpatrick for Congress (AZ), Aug. 2017-Nov. 2018.  Chief of staff to Rep. Kihuen, Jan.-Aug. 2017.  Campaign manager on Ruben Kihuen's congressional campaign in Nevada, May 2015-Nov. 2016.  B.A. in political science from St. Mary's College of Maryland, 2011.  twitter 

See also:
Kaitlin Lewis.  "Why Donald Trump Chose Dayton, Ohio as His final Rally Stop."  Newsweek, Nov. 8, 2022.

 Shawna Mizelle.  "Democrat Ryan distances himself from national party in tight Ohio Senate race."  CNN, Nov. 3, 2022.

Ross Barkan.  "Tim Ryan Thinks Everybody Is Wrong. Is He Right?"  New York, Oct. 27, 2022.

Alex Griffing.  "'That Pisses Me Off': Tim Ryan Rips Democratic Consultant's 'Bullsh*t' Suggestion the Party Target College Educated Voters."  Mediaite, Oct. 21, 2022.

Annie Linskey.  "Tim Ryan asks why Democrats 'don't smell blood' and help him in Ohio."  The Washington Post, Oct. 19, 2022.

Brian Schwartz.  "GOP megadonor Peter Thiel signals he is done helping Ohio Senate hopeful J.D. Vance, will fundraise for Arizona's Blake Masters."  CNBC, Oct. 3, 2022.

Annie Linskey.  "In Ohio, Vance scrambles to ramp up campaign after mounting GOP criticism."  The Washington Post, Sept. 17, 2022.

Manu Raju and Alex Rogers.  "'Where's J.D.?' Vance's Ohio Senate campaign prompts GOP concerns."  CNN, Sept. 1, 2022.

Andrew J. Tobias.  "National Republican group plans massive ad buy boosting J.D. Vance, signaling deepening GOP focus on Ohio’s Senate race."  cleveland.com, Aug. 18, 2022.

Natalie Allison.  "Farewell to the dumbest Senate primary ever."  Politico, May 4, 2022.

Cliff Schecter.  "Ohio Republicans Send Marin County Wine Sipper Into November Battle."  The New Republic, May 4, 2022.

Taylor Giorno.  "Vance surges to victory in Ohio's record-breaking Senate primary."  Open Secrets, May 4, 2022.

Alex Isenstadt.  "A mole hunt, a secret website and Peter Thiel's big risk: How J.D. Vance won his primary."  Politico, May 3, 2022.

Jack Crosbie.  "J.D. Vance Promises Voters That He Really Means It—This Time."  Rolling Stone, Apr. 23, 2022.