Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
GOP Senate candidate J. D. Vance in Phoenix, Arizona, April 17, 2021.

The Republican Jewish Coalition on Tuesday congratulated J.D. Vance “on his victory tonight in the Ohio Republican primary for U.S. Senate” over the Jewish candidate who had been leading in the polls throughout the campaign, Cleveland native Josh Mandel.

James David Vance (who changed his name from James Donald Bowman) received the endorsement of former president Donald Trump despite a report on Vance’s 2016 text messages saying that Trump could become either another Richard Nixon or “America’s Hitler,” and a demagogue who was “leading the white working class to a very dark place.”

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The RJC did congratulate a winning Jewish candidate on Tuesday, Max Miller, who took the Republican primary in Ohio’s 7th congressional district.

Vance beat former state treasurer Mandel who presented himself as a Trump wannabe. The NY Times commented Wednesday morning that “the conversion of Mr. Vance, an author, and venture capitalist, from Trump skeptic to full-on Trump ally might fill a second memoir, a sequel to his best-selling ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ Mr. Vance’s story of growing up poor in Kentucky and Ohio.” Also: “When that book was published in 2016, it was devoured by the ‘coastal elites’ he now rails against as a means for them to decode white working-class support for Mr. Trump.”

The RJC email said “J.D. Vance and Max Miller are talented, dedicated, and patriotic. Notably, Max Miller is a proud member of the Jewish community; and if elected, would be just the second Jewish Republican Representative from Ohio, the first in 30 years.”

Well, they could have had a third, you know…

Here’s another point about having Vance rather than Mandel represent Ohio in the Senate (should he be elected): Vance was “evangelical,” but in August 2019 converted to Catholicism. Vance said he converted because he “became persuaded over time that Catholicism was true,” and described Catholic doctrine’s influence on his political views.

Mazal tov.

Candidate Max Miller, a Trump White House staffer, is encumbered with some “issues,” mostly stemming from a story in Politico about his slapping his girlfriend, former White House Press Secretary, and Communications Director Stephanie Grisham. Miller denied the story, Politico responded with an extensive article titled “‘He’s a Great Guy’: Trump’s Favored Aide Has Troubled Past.”

The RJC email concluded: “Voters across the Buckeye State are sick and tired of the Democrats’ failures in Washington, D.C. We look forward to working hard every day between now and November 8th to support J.D. Vance and Max Miller in Ohio.”

In September 2021, Vance told The Insider: “When the left talks about Israel as sort of an evil colonizer apartheid state. I think that’s a pretty radical departure from how politicians have talked about the State of Israel.”

He also said: “In my experience, Jews, whatever their political affiliation, are pretty patriotic. They care a lot about living in a country that’s prosperous and free, and they don’t see Western civilization, which obviously has deep roots in the State of Israel and in the Jewish tradition, as something that’s evil and needs to be rejected but as something that needs to be built upon.”

He likes us!

Vance will face 4-term incumbent Democrat, Senator Sherrod Brown, who is as left-wing on social issues as one can be and still represent Ohio. However, on foreign policy Brown is practically in lockstep with the pro-Israel camp in Washington. In 2012, he co-sponsored a resolution to “oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat,” and in 2015, he co-sponsored an amendment to the budget that was unanimously approved by the Senate and that would reimpose sanctions on Iran if Iran violated the terms of the interim or final agreement by advancing its nuclear program.

In September 2016, ahead of the UN Security Council resolution 2334 condemning “Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Brown signed an AIPAC-sponsored letter urging President Obama to veto “one-sided” resolutions against Israel.

However, in February 2019, Brown voted against the Republicans’ Israel Anti-Boycott Act that would allow states to ban government agencies from contracting with organizations involved in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

So, yes, a committed Ohio Republican in the Senate would be an improvement. But so far, J.D. Vance hasn’t said much about Israel and Jews other than that we’re patriotic and pro-Western. Hopefully, the media will press him for the brass tacks.

We’ll be watching.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.