A possible bid by Donald Trump to regain the White House in 2024 has been bolstered after a candidate he backed won a Republican Senate primary in Ohio.
JD Vance, a venture capitalist who wrote a memoir titled Hillbilly Elegy, won nearly a third of the votes, according to Edison Research.
The 37-year-old said in his book that he identifies with “the millions of working-class Americans who don’t have a college degree.”
Once highly critical of Mr Trump, he has since backed off and his campaign has been bolstered by a belated endorsement from the former president.
He edged out former state treasurer Josh Mandel, also a Trump supporter.
A Trump spokesperson said the billionaire’s endorsement “propelled (Vance) into a commanding top spot.”
“I absolutely have to thank the 45th, the President of the United States, Donald J Trump,” Mr. Vance told the crowd on his election night in Cincinnati.
Criticizing the anonymous media which he said had campaigned for his and Mr Trump’s defeat, he added: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the death of the America First agenda.”
The campaign had been a “referendum on what kind of Republican Party we want and what kind of country we want,” he said.
University of Cincinnati political scientist David Niven said it was a “big night for Trumpism in the Ohio Republican Party.”
The field was “dominated by candidates trying to outdo each other”, he added.
Although Mr Trump has not announced any official plans to run again in 2024, he has hinted that it is something he is considering.
Earlier this year he said he thanks to supporters who participated in the Capitol Riots if he returned to the White House.
While Mr. Vance was born in Ohio, his book chronicles his upbringing in Kentucky’s Appalachia.
He wrote: “I’m a Scottish-Irish hillbilly at heart.
“I identify with the millions of working-class white Americans of Scots-Irish descent who don’t have a college degree.
“For these people, poverty is the family tradition – their ancestors were day laborers in the slave economy of the South, sharecroppers thereafter, and machinists and carpenters in more recent times.
“Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends and family.”
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