J.D. Vance

Best known for his 2016 memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” GOP Senate candidate J.D. Vance, center, white shirt, made his first appearance in Williams County in an hour-long meet-and-greet Monday with about a dozen locals at Kora in downtown Bryan. Vance laid out his case to be the GOP nominee to replace Rob Portman, saying he opposes abortion, vaccine mandates and the liberal left and hopes to secure the backing of former President Donald Trump.

One of 13 current Republican candidates for Ohio senator in the May primary, J.D. Vance made his first appearance in Williams County in an hour-long meet-and-greet Monday with about a dozen locals at Kora in downtown Bryan.

Best known for his 2016 memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” Vance spoke briefly, then answered more than a dozen questions that laid out his case to be the GOP nominee.

He said his pro-family, conservative values, undergirded by his experiences growing up poor and the son of an addicted mother in Middletown, Ohio, along with a commitment to “be honest and speak my mind,” separate him from the pack seeking to replace outgoing Sen. Rob Portman.

The primary is scheduled for May 3, 2022. The filing deadline is Feb. 2, 2022.

Vance said key to his platform are his commitments to fight against the political left, which he maintains is systematically undermining American values, and to fight to restore American manufacturing by taking on China and doing what is necessary to force those American businesses that have fled the country for cheaper labor to bring their manufacturing and their jobs back to the U.S.

Restoring American manufacturing, he said, will restore hard-hit Rust Belt places like Middletown and restore the American middle class.

“You don’t have a real country unless we make our own stuff,” said Vance, a graduate of Yale Law School and The Ohio State University, who now works as an Ohio-based venture capitalist, lending financial backing to startup companies.

In response to a question, Vance, a Cincinnati-area resident who’s married and served as a Marine in Iraq, said his first order of business is to take on illegal immigration by committing to build a southern border wall.

“Second, I’d hire two times more border patrol agents and third, reform the legal immigration system,” he said, noting the current border situation is rife with drugs, crime and traffickers, which creates what he calls “a lawless society.”

Vance, 37, said his second order of business if elected “is to break up the Big Tech companies,” which he maintains are biased for the left and against conservatives.

He also:

• Strongly opposes vaccine mandates, saying the COVID virus is not a danger to the overwhelming majority of people and the vaccine is “an experimental technology.” Mandates, he believes, are a slippery slope to authoritarianism.

“If they make it mandatory to get a shot, what else are they gonna make us do?” he said during the 40-minute question-and-answer period.

• Strongly opposes abortion: “I’m 100% pro-life. I got into politics because of this issue,” Vance said, adding he believes abortion “is a corrupting issue to society” and “has made our society anti-child.”

• Is generally favorable to many tenants of the Convention of States and favors term limits for politicians, saying if, for example, a U.S. senator hasn’t accomplished anything after two six-year terms, “it’s time to move on.”

• Favors a return to a single-day Election Day for voters to cast their ballots, pointing out the issues that can arise when voters cast their ballots weeks in advance even as issues or candidates change in the lead-up to the election. He also favors “common sense” voter IDs and favors “proper paper ballots.”

He also said he favors forensic audits of elections in all 50 states, while opining that “it’s impossible for a Republican to win an election in California.” But he also expressed confidence that elections are well-run, accurate and fair in Ohio.

• Emphasized several times that his fight is against the liberal left and its control of U.S. businesses and institutions. He cited the example of the Ford Foundation, which, he said, financially supports liberal causes such as efforts to push Critical Race Theory, an academic theory that race is a social construct and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

• Said he hopes to eventually secure the backing of former President Donald Trump and sees Josh Mandel as his prime competition among the 12 other candidates, citing their current similar poll numbers, financing and momentum.

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