COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohioans declared Republican J.D. Vance as their next U.S. Senator on Tuesday, kicking Democratic challenger Tim Ryan’s congressional bid to the curb, according to unofficial election results.

The Associated Press projected Vance as victor in Ohio’s most competitive and expensive race, launching him to a seat on Capitol Hill where he’ll join Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in representing the Buckeye State. Vance will replace the vacancy left by Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

“Whether you voted for me or not, the thing that I promise to do is go to the United States Senate and fight every single day for the state of Ohio,” Vance said. “Thanks to you, we get an opportunity to do just that.”

Below: JD Vance addresses his supporters after being announced as the projected winner for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat.

Vance’s triumph is a blow to Democrats looking to maintain their control over a Senate that’s split 50-50 down party lines, with Ohio joining a handful of battleground states in deciding which party could clinch control.

The 38-year-old venture capitalist known for authoring the 2016 memoir-turned-Netflix-movie “Hillbilly Elegy” was propelled to victory in a crowded May primary after receiving the highly-coveted endorsement from former President Donald Trump.

On the campaign trail, the Middletown native and first-time political contender touted himself as a conservative outsider who hopes to restore Ohio’s manufacturing base, reverse the Biden administration’s “needless spending” and double down on securing the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Vance is anti-abortion, pledged to help Ohioans afflicted by the opioid epidemic and called the House committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection a political hit job. 

Failing to maintain what once was a neck-and-neck race, Ryan, 49, of Mahoning Valley, tried to gain support from moderate and conservative voters dismayed by what he described as extremist factions of the Republican Party.

Ryan, who is finishing out his tenth term in Congress where he represents Ohio’s 13th U.S. House District, centered his campaign around cutting workers in on the deal, lambasting “devastating” trade policies that outsourced American jobs from working-class Ohioans.

He pledged to support Ohioans’ abortion rights, condemned extremist MAGA Republicans, and urged Trump to come clean about his suspected connections to Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

“This fight was for all of you to try to make this country and state a better place, and I’ll never regret a moment of it,” Ryan said in his concession speech.

Vance will assume office in January.

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