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2022 Ohio Senate race: J.D. Vance projected as winner over Tim Ryan

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J.D. Vance wins Ohio Senate race, CBS News projects 01:35

CBS News projects that Republican J.D. Vance will defeat Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan in the race for the Ohio Senate seat left open by the retirement of GOP Sen. Rob Portman. The Ohio race was seen as a crucial battleground as the two parties vied for control of the closely-divided Senate.

Vance, 38, a political newcomer, is a Marine veteran, venture capitalist and author of the memoir "Hillbilly Elegy." He defeated six other Republicans in the May primary for the GOP nomination, boosted by the backing of former President Trump and billionaire Peter Thiel, who also provided $15 million for a pro-Vance super PAC. 

Ryan, 49, was first elected to the House in 2002 and is currently serving his 10th term representing Ohio's 13th Congressional District, which encompasses Youngstown and areas close to Akron. He sought to distance himself from national Democrats throughout the race and focused his campaign on the economy and manufacturing.


The race

Ohio Senate candidates Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance address issues in town hall 05:40

On the campaign trail, Vance, who has never held public office, tried to tie Ryan to President Biden and the economic woes and questioned what Ryan has to show for his 20 years in Congress, arguing it's time for new representation. He also talked about rising costs, fentanyl coming across the southern border and crime. He argued the way to bring down inflation is for Congress to stop spending and has called on the U.S. to increase its energy independence.

Vance also said during the campaign he would support a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks that was introduced by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina but has been vague on which exemptions he might support, aside from one to protect the life of the mother. 

Vance underwent his own ideological transformation after launching his bid, going from self-described "never-Trump guy" who referred to the former president as "cultural heroin" to someone who Trump described as "kissing my a**" during an Ohio rally. He is poised to be a far more conservative lawmaker than Portman, who cut bipartisan deals on infrastructure, gun legislation, and reforming the electoral count act. 

While polling showed Vance with a slim lead in the final months — outside GOP groups spent millions in the race. The Senate Leadership Fund put nearly $30 million into the Ohio Senate race in the final months of the election season. Trump's MAGA Inc. has also put more than $2 million into advertising in the race. 

To combat inflation, Ryan has called for tax cuts for families and small businesses and said the long-term solution is bringing supply chains back to the U.S. In one notable ad, he said he agreed with Trump on China. 

On the campaign trail, Ryan bolsters his claim of distance from his fellow Democrats by pointing out that he unsuccessfully challenged Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leader in 2016. But Ryan has voted in lockstep with the Democratic Party in this Congress. He used to oppose gun restrictions and abortion, but voted for both a package of gun control measures and a bill to codify Roe v. Wade into law in the past year. 

On the stump, Ryan said he was running to represent the "exhausted majority" including Democrats, Republicans and independents. He has also attempted to paint Vance as an extremist who left Ohio for California and is only in the race for himself. 

While the race was largely focused on the economy, Ryan blasted Vance for supporting federal abortion restrictions and past remarks he's made rejecting exceptions for rape or incest. Ryan also criticized Vance for helping raise money for lawyers for those who marched on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and for attending Trump rallies.

By Sarah Ewall-Wice
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