Ex-Trump critic J.D. Vance is running for Senate after meeting with Trump and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel at Mar-a-Lago, according to new report

J.D. Vance
J.D. Vance

  • Venture capitalist J.D. Vance has told friends that he will run for retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s Ohio seat in 2022, Axios first reported on Thursday.
  • Vance, author of the bestselling 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” recently met with former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago.
  • Before Trump’s 2016 win, Vance said Trump “would be terrible for the country.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Venture capitalist J.D. Vance has told friends that he will run for retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s Ohio seat in 2022, Axios first reported on Thursday.

Vance, who made a name for himself with his bestselling 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” recently met with former President Donald Trump and conservative Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Axios reported.

The 36-year-old Marine veteran and Yale Law School graduate was highly critical of Trump before he was elected president.

“I can’t stomach Trump. I think that he’s noxious and is leading the white working class to a very dark place,” Vance told NPR’s Terry Gross before Trump’s win in 2016. He also told conservative commentator Mona Charen, “If Trump wins it would be terrible for the country, but good for book sales.”

As Vance predicted, he became a popular translator of the issues facing the struggling white working-class that helped power Trump’s 2016 presidential bid. Over the last few years, he’s become a loyal Republican.

Vance previously worked for Thiel’s venture capital firm, Mithril Capital. In 2019, he founded his own firm, Narya, which invests in start-ups in under-resourced areas. Thiel and other prominent Silicon Valley figures, including former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and two top Facebook executives, contributed to Vance’s $90 million fund.

Thiel has helped shepherd Vance into politics and donated $10 million to the super PAC Protect Ohio Values, which was set up to back Vance’s Senate bid.

While Vance built his career in finance on support from prominent tech executives, he’s recently taken to condemning the power of “Big Tech” along with other conservatives politicians. He’s called on the Republican Party to remake itself as the champion of the working class and aligned himself with the likes of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who he recently argued “is the only powerful figure who consistently challenges elite dogma – on both cultural and economic questions.”

Several other Republicans have already entered the Senate primary, and the race is looking to be one of the most-watched of the cycle.

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Billionaire Peter Thiel donates $10 million to ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author J.D. Vance’s potential Senate run

J.D. Vance
J.D. Vance is the author of the best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.”

  • The Cincinnati Enquirer reports Peter Thiel gave $10 million to J.D. Vance’s possible Senate bid.
  • Thiel donated to the Protect Ohio Values PAC, an organization supporting Vance’s candidacy.
  • Vance had previously worked for Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management investment firm.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Billionaire Peter Thiel is backing J.D. Vance’s possible run for the US Senate.

Thiel, the cofounder of PayPal, donated $10 million to the Protect Ohio Values PAC, the group told the Cincinnati Enquirer. Protect Ohio Values was formed last month to recruit Vance to run for retiring US Sen. Rob Portman’s Ohio seat.

“Protect Ohio Values PAC is amplifying the many voice who want JD Vance to be Ohio’s next US Senator,” Protect Ohio Values PAC spokesperson Bryan Lanza said in a statement to Insider.

J.D. Vance wrote the best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” which recounted his childhood growing up in a white working class Rust Belt town. The Netflix film adaption of “Hillbilly Elegy” recently picked up an Oscar nomination.

Read more: At least 22 governors haven’t gotten their COVID-19 vaccine, Insider found. Here’s who – and why.

Thiel also gave Vance financial backing last year, when Vance launched the venture capital fund Narya Capital. Narya invests in tech and science pursuits in cities outside of coastal tech hubs.

Vance had worked for Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management investment firm after graduating from Yale Law School in 2013.

Thiel had been a vocal supporter for Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign and presidency, but backed away from his 2020 reelection campaign. The tech investor had previously put $850,000 into a PAC that backed former secretary of state of Kansas Kris Kobach’s failed 2020 senate bid.

Thiel did not immediately return a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider