Peter Thiel, Mercers Back a Potential J.D. Vance Senate Run

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Tech billionaire Peter Thiel donated $10 million to a super PAC supporting venture capitalist J.D. Vance’s possible run for retiring U.S. Senator Rob Portman’s Ohio seat.

Thiel gave $10 million to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC created last month to back Vance’s potential bid in the seat’s Republican primary, according to Bryan Lanza, an adviser to the PAC.

Peter Thiel, Mercers Back a Potential J.D. Vance Senate Run

Vance, 36, is a partner and co-founder of Narya Capital Management LLC. He became a household name after the release of his best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” about growing up white and working-class in the Appalachia region of Ohio. Netflix recently adapted the book into a movie.

With the Senate split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, the parties will be vying for control in 2022, and any open seat is a big prize. With such a well-funded PAC, Vance would be jumping in with a sizable war chest and powerful friends.

The family of hedge fund manager Robert Mercer also donated an undisclosed amount, and Lanza declined to specify how much.

The PAC was formed in part by Timothy Koch of Koch & Hoos, Federal Election Commission records show. Vance previously considered running for the U.S. Senate in 2018 for the seat held by Senator Sher rod Brown.

Vance worked at Thiel’s venture capital firm Mithril Capital Management LLC after he graduated from law school. Thiel later became a large backer of Vance’s Narya Capital.

Republicans Josh Mandel and Jane Timken have already announced their candidacies for the seat, and businessman Mike Gibbons announced a statewide “listening tour” on Monday ahead of an expected candidacy.

Mandel, the former Ohio treasurer who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2012 and in 2018, and Timken, the former chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, have been trying to outdo each other to be seen as the top ally of former President Donald Trump and his “America First” agenda in a state that the former president won twice handily.

Democrats considering the race include U.S. Representative Tim Ryan, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, and Dr. Amy Acton, the former Ohio health director who gained notoriety for her role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

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