J.D. Vance
Haiyun Jiang—The New York Times/Redux

When J.D. Vance entered the Republican primary for last year’s Ohio Senate race, the first-time candidate and best-selling author of Hillbilly Elegy initially looked like a long shot because of his past criticism of former President Donald Trump. But his ability to articulate a Trumpian populism—including comments critics called racist and sexist, and others embracing Trump’s lies about the 2020 election—earned him Trump’s endorsement anyway, and he went on to win the general election. Vance’s backers, including right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel, see the 39-year-old Senator as part of a rising cohort of “new right” leaders. He has proved willing to take positions that go against the GOP grain, like championing new rail-safety regulations in the aftermath of the East Palestine derailment and opposing U.S. military aid to Ukraine. “Bipartisan foreign policy consensus has led the country astray,” Vance wrote in an op-ed endorsing Trump for re-election, “Donald Trump’s presidency marked the first real disruption to a failed consensus and the terrible consequences it wrought.”

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