McConnell reaches out to 'Hillbilly Elegy' author about Senate run

'Hillbilly Elegy' author on Rust Belt voters
'Hillbilly Elegy' author on Rust Belt voters

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Story highlights

  • The call follows GOP candidate Josh Mandel's unexpected departure from the race
  • Vance has emerged as a national voice on the sentiments of white working-class Americans

(CNN)Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has spoken to "Hillbilly Elegy" author JD Vance about a potential run for Senate in Ohio following GOP candidate Josh Mandel's unexpected departure from the race last week, a source familiar with the call confirmed to CNN.

The top Senate Republican reached out to Vance, who is a CNN contributor, to offer advice about what he could expect from a potential bid, the source said. The call was described as a conversation rather than a pitch to run, and the source said Vance appeared to be taking it in at this point and contemplating whether he could make a real difference in the race and the Senate. Politico first reported the call.
A spokesperson for Vance told CNN they are "unable to confirm anything at this time."
    Mandel, who cited his wife's health issues as cause for his withdrawal, was thought to be the leading candidate in the high-stakes midterm race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.
    Vance told The Atlantic in September 2017 he had considered but decided against a Senate bid, saying "it would have been an objectively bad call for my family."
    The best-selling author has ties to Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, the Koch Brothers and others within the conservative community, according to CNN's source.
    Vance emerged as a national voice on the sentiments of white working-class Americans with his memoir of growing up in the Rust Belt. During the 2016 campaign, he often spoke to the motivations of Donald Trump voters in this community.