J. D. Vance
J. D. Vance
James Donald Bowman
August 2, 1984
|Education||Ohio State University (BA)|
Yale University (JD)
|Occupation||Author, commentator, venture capitalist|
|Known for||Commentary on rural sociology, poverty, Hillbilly culture|
|Service/||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||2003–2007|
|Unit||2nd Marine Aircraft Wing|
James David Vance (born James Donald Bowman; August 2, 1984) is an American conservative commentator, politician, venture capitalist, and author. He is best known for his memoir Hillbilly Elegy, which attracted significant press attention during the 2016 election.
Vance is the Republican nominee in the 2022 United States Senate election in Ohio to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman. He will face Democratic nominee Tim Ryan in the November 2022 general election.
Early life and education
James David Vance was born on August 2, 1984, in Middletown, Ohio, located between Cincinnati and Dayton, as James Donald Bowman, the son of Donald Bowman and Bev Vance. He is of Scots-Irish descent. His mother and father divorced when Vance was a toddler. Shortly afterward, Vance was adopted by his mother's third husband. Vance and his sister were raised primarily by his grandparents, James and Bonnie Vance, whom they called "Mamaw and Papaw". J. D. later went by the name James Hamel, the surname of his stepfather, until adopting the surname Vance in honor of his grandparents.
Vance was educated at Middletown High School, a public high school in his hometown. After graduating, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in the Iraq War with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, performing public affairs activities. Vance later graduated summa cum laude from Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and philosophy. While at Ohio State, he worked for Republican Ohio State Senator Bob Schuler.
In 2016, Harper published his book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. It was on The New York Times Best Seller list in 2016 and 2017. It was a finalist for the 2017 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and winner of the 2017 Audie Award for Nonfiction. The New York Times called it "one of the six best books to help understand Trump's win". The Washington Post called him the "voice of the Rust Belt," while The New Republic criticized him as "liberal media's favorite white trash–splainer" and the "false prophet of blue America". Economist William Easterly, a West Virginia native, criticized the book, calling it a "Sloppy analysis of collections of people—coastal elites, flyover America, Muslims, immigrants, people without college degrees, you name it—has become routine. And it's killing our politics."
In 2017, he joined Revolution LLC, an investment firm founded by AOL cofounder Steve Case, as an investment partner, where he was tasked with expanding the "Rise of the Rest" initiative, which focuses on growing investments in under-served regions outside Silicon Valley and New York City tech bubbles.
In January 2017, Vance became a CNN contributor. In April 2017, Ron Howard signed on to direct a film version of Hillbilly Elegy, which was released by Netflix in 2020, and starred Owen Asztalos and Gabriel Basso as Vance.
In 2019, he co-founded Narya Capital in Cincinnati, Ohio, with financial backing from Peter Thiel, Eric Schmidt, and Marc Andreessen. In 2020, he raised $93 million for the firm. He has also invested in Rumble which is a competitor to YouTube.
2022 Ohio U.S. Senate campaign
In early 2018, Vance was reported to have been considering a bid for U.S. Senate as a Republican running against Democrat Sherrod Brown, but declined to run. In April 2021, Vance expressed interest in running for the Ohio Senate seat being vacated by Republican Rob Portman.
Peter Thiel has given $10 million to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC, created in February 2021 to support Vance in running for the 2022 U.S. Senate election in Ohio. Robert Mercer also gave an undisclosed amount. In May 2021, Vance launched an exploratory committee. In July 2021, he officially entered the race.
Vance has been called a populist conservative candidate because he is backed by venture capitalist Peter Thiel and endorsed by Tucker Carlson. Vance is influenced by fellow Senate candidate Blake Masters, conservative writer Rod Dreher, and by neoreactionary blogger Curtis Yarvin. In July 2021, Vance said that the culture war is a class war against middle class and working class Americans, and he also said that it's an economic war against conservatives.
Vance opposes abortion and said a leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade "would be an amazing victory" if true. When asked whether abortion laws should include exceptions for rape and incest, he stated "two wrong don't make a right." Ohio's largest anti-abortion group, Ohio Right to Life, endorsed Vance's U.S. Senate campaign.
Views on childlessness, divorce, and domestic abuse
In a 2021 speech to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Vance blamed "the childless left" for America's woes. He praised far-right Hungarian president Viktor Orban for encouraging married couples to have children, and said non-parents should not have as much of a voice as parents, and that parents should "have a bigger say in how democracy functions."
In September 2021, while speaking at Pacifica Christian High School in California, Vance said, "This is one of the great tricks that I think the sexual revolution pulled on the American populace, which is the idea that like, 'well, OK, these marriages were fundamentally, you know, they were maybe even violent, but certainly they were unhappy. And so getting rid of them and making it easier for people to shift spouses like they change their underwear, that's going to make people happier in the long term.'" Vice wrote that Vance "seemed to suggest that in some cases, 'even violent' marriages should continue." A strategist for Vance called Vice's claim preposterous and said Vance does not support individuals staying in abusive relationships, emphasizing that Vance experienced childhood domestic abuse.
Relationship with Donald Trump
During the 2016 election, Vance was critical of Republican Party nominee Donald Trump. In a USA Today column in February 2016, Vance wrote "Trump's actual policy proposals, such as they are, range from immoral to absurd." In a July 2016 column for The Atlantic, Vance alluded to Karl Marx by calling Trump and his campaign promises the "opioid of the masses." In October 2016, he described Trump as "reprehensible" in a post on Twitter and described himself as a "never-Trump guy." He also stated his intentions to vote for independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin.
Vance changed his rhetoric after announcing his candidacy for the United States Senate in July 2021. He deleted posts from his Twitter account that were critical of Trump and apologized for calling Trump "reprehensible." Reversing his earlier statements on Trump, Vance said that he now thought Trump was a good president and expressed regret about his statements during the 2016 election. Vance had visited Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trump and Peter Thiel ahead of an official announcement.
Whereas Vance had once admonished Trump for demonizing immigrants, Vance himself has repeatedly called illegal immigration "dirty". In October 2021, Vance reiterated Trump's claims of election fraud, falsely stating that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election because of widespread voter fraud.
In 2021, Vance told podcaster Jack Murphy, who heads a men's group called Liminal Order, that he believed conservatives "should seize the institutions of the left. And turn them against the left. We need like a de-Baathification program, a de-woke-ification program." If Trump were to win re-election in 2024, Vance told Murphy, Trump should "Fire every single midlevel bureaucrat, every civil servant in the administrative state, replace them with our people."
In April 2022 Vance was endorsed by Trump for U.S. Senate in Ohio. That same month, Vance's former law school roommate, Josh McLaurin, showed messages from 2016 that Vance had sent him saying that Trump could possibly become either another "cynical asshole" like Richard Nixon or "America's Hitler" during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Vance has been married to a former law school classmate, Usha Chilukuri Vance, since 2014, and they have three children. For much of his professional career, Vance and his family have lived in San Francisco, where they were active in community gardening.
Vance was raised in a "conservative, evangelical" branch of Protestantism, but by September 2016, he was "thinking very seriously about converting to Catholicism". Vance added, however, that he was "not an active participant" in any particular religious denomination. In August 2019, Vance was baptized and confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church in a ceremony at St. Gertrude Priory in Cincinnati, Ohio. He chose Augustine of Hippo for his confirmation name. In a subsequent interview with Rod Dreher, Vance said he converted because he "became persuaded over time that Catholicism was true", and described the influence of Roman Catholic theology upon his political views.
Also in 2019, the first issue of The Lamp, which has since been described as "a Catholic version of The New Yorker", included an essay by Vance describing the reasons for his conversion to the Roman Catholic Church.
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- Vance, J. D. (2017). Hillbilly Elegy. London: William Collins. p. 181. ISBN 9780008220563. OCLC 965479512.
I took a job at the Ohio Statehouse, working for a remarkably kind senator from the Cincinnati area named Bob Schuler. He was a good man, and I liked his politics, so when constituents called and complained, I tried to explain his positions.
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- Vakil, Caroline (July 23, 2021). "JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians". The Hill. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
Vance said that the culture war is a class war against middle and working class Americans, and also claimed that it's an economic war against conservatives.
- J.D. Vance [@JDVance1] (May 3, 2022). "Hope the news of the leaked opinion is true" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- Carr Smyth, Julie (April 7, 2022). Ohio Right to Life backs JD Vance for open US Senate seat. ABC News / AP
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he has turned into a hard-edged conspiracist who claimed President Biden was flooding Ohio with illegal drugs
- Kessler, Glen (May 11, 2022). "J.D. Vance's Claim that Biden is Targeting 'MAGA Voters' with Fentanyl". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
- Vance, J. D. (February 18, 2016). "Trump speaks for those Bush betrayed: Column". USA Today. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
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- Dreher, Rod (August 11, 2019). "J.D. Vance Becomes Catholic". The American Conservative. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
- ""Meditation on a magazine cover" The Catholic Spirit". The Catholic Spirit.
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