Report: Trump Poised to Endorse J.D. Vance in Crowded Ohio Senate Race (Update: Trump Endorses Vance)

Former President Trump is set to endorse “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance in Ohio’s crowded GOP Senate primary, three sources close to Trump told NBC News. According to the sources, Trump has held off on making the endorsement due to “intense pressure from the rival Republican campaigns of Josh Mandel and Jane Timken.”

He is expected to make the announcement before his upcoming rally in Delaware, Ohio on April 23.

Trump has reportedly been calling donors and advisers to get their opinion on his endorsement of Vance.

“The Mandel people hit the roof,” one Republican with knowledge of the discussions told NBC. According to the source, Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan tried to talk Trump out of the endorsement on behalf of Mandel.

In the May 3 primary, the winner of the crowded field take all — meaning the candidate with the plurality wins.

A source close to Mandel’s campaign acknowledged Thursday that Trump’s press shop had already written up an endorsement of Vance, but it threw up a last-minute obstacle for the former president to consider: an internal Republican poll conducted by his campaign showing Mandel in front with 33 percent of the vote, followed by Matt Dolan and Mike Gibbons tied at 15 percent. Vance and Jane Timken were tied at 9 percent in the Mandel poll.

Trump has been concerned with Vance, who criticized the former president bitterly in 2016.

Donald Trump Jr. addressed this issue in a tweet last month, saying that “JD is 100% America First.”

Trump Jr. recently attended a fundraiser for Vance at a French-American restaurant in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump Jr. reportedly did not endorse Vance at the gathering of about 20 people, however, he and Vance have become good friends over the past year and-a-half, according to a source familiar with their relationship.

Mandel and Gibbons lead the pack in the polls with RealClearPolitics averages of 18.7 percent and 20 percent respectively. Vance is in third place with a RCP average of 11 percent. A Trafalgar Group poll in December had him within striking distance with 14.9 percent of support in the poll.

Reportedly, Trump and his advisers believe Vance can catch up, and is the one who can “make a real difference.”

“Nothing is final until it’s final. So Trump can always change his mind,” said one source who had spoken recently to Trump about the Ohio race. “But he already kicked the tires on everyone and he’s ready to go with Vance. It’s either Vance or nobody. And it’s only nobody if somehow the other campaigns can get him to hold off.”

Update:

Trump endorsed Vance in a statement on Friday, acknowledging that he “said some not so great things about me.”

Entire statement below:

MAGA patriots from across the nation are set to deliver an election landside for Republicans that will serve as a devastating rebuke of the failures of Joe Biden and the Radical Left Democrats. In the Great State of Ohio, the candidate most qualified and ready to win in November is J.D. Vance. We cannot play games. It is all about winning!

Like some others, J.D. Vance may have said some not so great things about me in the past, but he gets it now, and I have seen that in spades. He is our best chance for victory in what could be a very tough race. The Democrats will be spending many millions of dollars, but the good news is that they have a defective candidate who ran for President and garnered exactly zero percent in the polls. The bottom line is, we must have a Republican victory in Ohio.

This is not an easy endorsement for me to make because I like and respect some of the other candidates in the race—they’ve said great things about “Trump” and, like me, they love Ohio and love our Country. I’ve studied this race closely and I think J.D. is the most likely to take out the weak, but dangerous, Democrat opponent—dangerous because they will have so much money to spend. However, J.D. will destroy him in the debates and will fight for the MAGA Movement in the Senate. He’s strong on the Border, tough on Crime, understands how to use Taxes and Tariffs to hold China accountable, will fight to break up Big Tech, and has been a warrior on the Rigged and Stolen Presidential Election. J.D. is a Marine who served in the Iraq War, a graduate of The Ohio State University, and earned a Law Degree from Yale—a great student. With J.D. Vance, Ohio gets both brains and brawn. Ohio has been good to me, I won it twice, really BIG, and I have likewise been GREAT for Ohio. Let’s keep it going!

It is time for the entire MAGA movement, the greatest in the history of our Country, to unite behind J.D.’s campaign because, unlike so many other pretenders and wannabes, he will put America First. In other words, J.D. Vance has my Complete and Total Endorsement. He will not let you down. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 27: J.D. Vance, author of the book "Hillbilly Elegy," poses for a portrait photograph near the US Capitol building in Washington, D.C., January 27, 2017. Vance has become the nation's go-to angry, white, rural translator. The book has sold almost half a million copies since late June. Vance, a product of rural Ohio, a former Marine and Yale School grad, has the nation's top-selling book. He's become a CNN commentator, in-demand speaker, and plans to move back to Ohio from SF where he's worked as a principal in an investment firm. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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