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VP Vance? Is Ohio's Republican US senator up to the task as Trump weighs his options?

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump, left, poses for a photo with Sen. J.D. Vance, each holding a thumbs up.
Jeff Dean
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump, left, poses for a photo with Sen. J.D. Vance at a campaign rally Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio.

Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to be in Cincinnati on May 15 to attend a fundraiser for his presidential campaign. Standing alongside the likely Republican presidential nominee will be Ohio's U.S. senator, J.D. Vance.

Vance is reportedly spending time this weekend with Trump in Florida along with other candidates speculated to be on the short list to become Trump's running mate.

"I talk to President Trump a lot, we're very close. I've never talked to him about being vice president,” Vance said in an interview with FOX News on Sunday.

Vance went on to say, “Of course, if he asked me, I would have to think seriously about it.”

Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, admits a vice presidential pick is hard to handicap but pointed out some of Vance’s strengths.

“[Vance] respects a point of view that's different than some of his other Republican colleagues,” said Kondik. “He's also someone who transformed from being a big Trump critic to a to a really big Trump supporter. "

Another asset for Vance, Kondik said, may be his friendship with Donald Trump Jr.

"There's been plenty of reporting about their friendship over the years,” said Kondik. “And it seems like Don Jr. helped play peacemaker between Vance and Trump when Vance was running for office four years ago."

There’s one concern a Trump-Vance ticket could pose, Kondik said.

“One thing I think is worth thinking about is if Vance were to be selected as the running mate, and even if he became vice president, that would open up Vance’s senate seat,” Kondik said. “There would be a gubernatorial appointment, but then there would be a special election for that seat in 2026, as I understand the law. And an open seat or a seat with an appointee in a midterm with Trump as president, that's a potentially vulnerable senate seat.

“And I bring all this up only to say that there is a complication with the makeup of the Senate for picking Vance that needs to be taken into account.”

Case in point, Kondik said, if Ohio's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown, had been selected as Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden’s running mate, it’s possible Democrats could have lost that senate seat.

“The Vance situation is different in that there is a Republican governor in place. So Vance could be replaced as Republican appointee, but that would be an extra seat for Republicans to have to defend. And in a 2018-style wave environment, it’s potentially vulnerable,” said Kondik.

The last vice presidential candidate from Ohio on a major party ticket was John Bricker, a Republican former Ohio governor and running mate of Thomas Dewey in 1944. They lost to the Democratic ticket of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

Josh Boose is associate producer for newscasts at Ideastream Public Media.