J.D. Vance’s politics come into focus as he starts Senate campaign: Where he stands

Middletown native J.D. Vance announced his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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Middletown native J.D. Vance announced his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Middletown native J.D. Vance has decided to put his professional life on hold and concentrate on running for public office, which will cause many more people to study who he is as a person what his political beliefs are.

He officially entered a growing race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate on Thursday evening during an event at Middletown Tube Works.

It was fitting the announcement was made in Middletown in front of about 450 people because “this town made me who I am,” the 36-year-old Middletown High School graduate said. “Middletown has always been good to me.”

Vance is best known for his memoir depicting his family’s struggles in Appalachian Kentucky and his mother’s opiod addiction during his childhood. His book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” was a New York Times best seller that was turned into a movie directed by Ron Howard.

Vance said those who voice their opinions in this country often are labeled as “racists,” “a bad person” or “insulted and called names” by those with differing thoughts.

“They use insults to shut us up,” he said.

Under former President Donald Trump, the southern borders were controlled, but they have become “a total human catastrophe” in several months under President Joe Biden, he said.

Critical race theory concentrates too much on the color of a person’s skin and “isn’t good for anybody in this country,” according to Vance. Vance, who is pro-life and the father of two, said the country needs to be pro-babies and pro-families.

“Our leaders have failed us on these critical issues,” he said. “We need new politics for a new generation.”

He wants to lower taxes for the middle class and raise taxes on companies that ship jobs overseas, he said.

“We need people in Washington, DC who know how the system works and who know how to reform that system and make it better, and that’s why I’m running to be your next U.S. Senator for the state of Ohio,” he said. “We are here to make the country better.”

Vance joins a slew of Republicans clamoring for the chance to replace retiring Sen. Rob Portman, including former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken, former state treasurer Josh Mandel, car dealer Bernie Moreno and investment banker Mike Gibbons.

Running so far on the Democratic side is U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.

Vance at one time opposed former President Trump, and said in an NPR interview in 2016 that the Manhattan billionaire is “noxious” and “can’t stomach Trump.”

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mona Charen wrote in March that Vance appeared in that year on her then-podcast, “Need to Know,” the now-U.S. Senate candidate recounted a message to his editor, “If Trump wins it would be terrible for the country, but good for book sales.”

After Trump’s election, Vance, who graduated from Ohio State and Yale, reversed his criticism of Trump, and has become more controversial, especially on Twitter.

His politics remain conservative but he has become more vocal about his positions, and in a March Newsweek opinion piece he said, after Trump’s win, “I rethought my position.”

“As I watched the constant stream of venom from Democratic Party ‘resisters’ and their allies in the corporate media, it dawned on me that President Trump’s aggressive style was a feature, not a bug,” Vance wrote in Newsweek.

The Marine then backed Trump’s re-election bid in 2020, in part he didn’t back down from his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh ― and his friend, he says in Newsweek ― to the U.S. Supreme Court. Vance’s wife of seven years, Usha, clerked for Kavanaugh when he was a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C.

Vance said he and his father, Donald Bowman, who had a troubled relationship for years, attended a Trump rally last weekend near Cleveland. He said his father loves fried chicken and when asked where he wanted to eat lunch on the drive to Cleveland, he only mentioned fried chicken fast-food restaurants.

When they passed through Amish country, Bowman, who was sleeping in the back seat, wake up when he heard the conversation and noted that Amish make the “best fried chicken.”

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Middletown native J.D. Vance announced his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Middletown native J.D. Vance announced his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

caption arrowCaption
Middletown native J.D. Vance announced his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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Middletown native J.D. Vance talks to Vicki Taylor, who lived down the street from Vance when he lived in Middletown as a child, after announcing his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Middletown native J.D. Vance talks to Vicki Taylor, who lived down the street from Vance when he lived in Middletown as a child, after announcing his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

caption arrowCaption
Middletown native J.D. Vance talks to Vicki Taylor, who lived down the street from Vance when he lived in Middletown as a child, after announcing his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

caption arrowCaption
Middletown native J.D. Vance announced his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Middletown native J.D. Vance announced his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

caption arrowCaption
Middletown native J.D. Vance announced his bid for U.S. Senate during an event at Middletown Tube Works with over 400 people in attendance Thursday, July 1, 2021 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham