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© Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images J.D. Vance Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

  • 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.”

Video: Rep. Banks: Trump cemented relationship between working-class Americans and GOP party (FOX News)

Rep. Banks: Trump cemented relationship between working-class Americans and GOP party
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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.

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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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