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'Hillbilly Elegy' Author J.D. Vance Running For Ohio Senate Seat

J.D. Vance stands at a podium at the floor of the Tube Works metal factory in Middletown, Ohio. He speaks to a crowd of about 300 people about his candidacy for Ohio's Senate seat.
Jason Saul
J.D. Vance announces his run for Sen. Rob Portman's seat in 2022 at a rally in Middletown, Ohio Tuesday evening. Vance is the author of "Hillbilly Elegy" and will be joining an already crowded field of candidates.

A crowd of about 300 people chanted “J.D.” on the Tube Works factory floor in Middletown, Ohio Tuesday night. J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy," had just announced his candidacy for the Ohio Senate seat.

The 36-year-old venture capitalist returned to his hometown to kickoff his campaign for the seat to be vacated next year by Rob Portman.

“My grandparents came here because this was the land of the American dream in Middletown," Vance said. "Ohio has always been good to me.”

Vance gained national attention for his 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.” The book discussed Appalachian life and was seen by critics as a window into the white working class.

At the rally, Vance emphasized the importance of keeping manufacturing jobs in the U.S., especially for small towns like Middletown.

“I want to fight for small businesses that are struggling to hire and struggling to build a great company because the government and our multinational corporations make it harder,” Vance said.

He will be joining a crowded field of candidates, with a financial backing of over $10 million from Silicon Valley tycoon Peter Thiel.

Mawa Iqbal is a reporter for WYSO. Before coming to WYSO, she interned at Kansas City PBS's digital magazine, Flatland. There, her reporting focused on higher education and immigrant communities in the Kansas City area. She studied radio journalism at Mizzou, where she also worked for their local NPR-affiliate station as a reporter.