What happens to JD Vance's Senate seat if Trump chooses him as veep and wins re-election?


Should Sen. JD Vance get the nod from former President Trump to be his 2024 running mate and the ticket wins the White House in November, the Ohio Republican’s Senate seat will be in the hands of a decidedly non-MAGA GOP governor.

Trump is expected to make an announcement on his selection by mid-July, and Vance is widely believed to be on his short list. If Vance trades in his Senate seat for the vice presidency, Gov. Mike DeWine, a fellow Republican, will choose who gets to finish his term. Vance hopes it happens.

“I care a lot about national defense, I care a lot about whether the troops have what they need to fight,” Vance said on Fox News last week in a conversation related to him potentially serving as vice president. “I care a lot about, frankly, whether when we ask our kids to go to war, we ought to make sure it’s for the right reasons. And so you definitely think about those things, maybe a little bit differently, as a U.S. Marine.” 

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Sen. JD Vance during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on June 22, 2023. (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Vance could also be a powerful weapon against the Biden campaign, with Vice President Kamala Harris’ former communications director Ashley Etienne calling him the “greatest threat” in a vice presidential debate. 

“I think JD Vance would pose the greatest threat [to] Kamala Harris, in some respects. I mean he’s an incredible debater,” Etienne told CNN earlier this month. “I think he has this quality that makes him seem palpable to that one to two percent that actually might vote or that is undecided, that will actually pay attention to the debates because most people don’t pay attention to the debates.”

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Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during a news conference, Dec. 29, 2023, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

DeWine will certainly select a fellow Republican to fill the vacant Senate seat if Vance does land on a winning ticket, but he is unlikely to choose as ardent a supporter of Trump’s agenda as Vance. DeWine has had a tepid relationship with Trump, even declining to outright endorse him in the 2024 election. For his part, Trump has slammed the GOP governor for various policies, such as vetoing a bill that banned transgender surgeries for minors last year. DeWine has remained relatively mum on his thoughts on Trump, treading carefully with his support of the 45th president without offering his full-throated backing. 

Trump did endorse DeWine in his 2018 gubernatorial election, and despite previous criticisms of the governor, Trump again endorsed him in his 2022 election. 

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“We have an outstanding person running, Mike DeWine, who quietly, but professionally, goes about doing his job and really well,” Trump said at the time. 

Under the scenario of a Trump-Vance ticket winning the general election, DeWine has a bevy of Republican options, including both establishment Republicans and a handful of Trump-backed GOPers, such as Rep. Mike Carey, Ohio-based outlet The Plain Dealer reported last week. 

The governor’s office told Fox News Digital on Sunday when asked about any potential plans to fill a vacancy, that there’s currently “no vacancy on which to comment.”

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Former President Trump and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate JD Vance greet supporters during the rally at the Dayton International Airport on Nov. 7, 2022, in Vandalia, Ohio. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

DeWine has multiple factors to consider if he is in fact tasked with filling the seat, including appointing someone with staying power who could retain the seat, The Plain Dealer highlighted. 

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The outlet reported that state Sen. Matt Dolan could be chosen as a potential Vance replacement, or Secretary of State Frank LaRose, or Jane Timken, who received endorsements from both Trump and establishment Republicans during her Senate campaign in 2022. Dolan and LaRose both ran in the GOP primary in an effort to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in the general, but lost to Trump-backed candidate Bernie Moreno. 

“If Sen. Vance is elected vice president, most Ohio Republicans in the know expect that Gov. DeWine will appoint a consensus Republican to his seat who will support President Trump’s priorities in Washington and not someone antagonistic to him,” an Ohio Republican operative told Fox News Digital, quelling concern of a potential clash between establishment Republicans and MAGA supporters. 

Vance has emerged as a strong supporter of Trump, landing him atop the list of likely running mates. The Republican senator in 2016, however, repeatedly slammed Trump, including comparing him to Hitler. The senator has since totally disavowed his comments, and underscored to voters that he’s unafraid to admit when he is wrong. 

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“I go back and forth between thinking Trump is a cynical a–-hole like Nixon who wouldn’t be that bad (and might even prove useful) or that he’s America’s Hitler. How’s that for discouraging?” Vance wrote to an old friend in the winter of 2016. 

“I’m a Never Trump guy,” Vance said on a separate occasion during an interview with Charlie Rose in 2016. “I never liked him.”

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Former President Trump’s veepstakes has apparently whittled itself down to three candidates: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Ohio Sen. JD Vance and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. (Getty Images)

Vance has taken the previous comments head-on during interviews with the media, including during an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier earlier this month.

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“Look, I was wrong about Donald Trump,” Vance said. “I didn’t think he was gonna be a good president, Bret. He was a great president. And it’s one of the reasons why I’m working so hard to make sure he gets a second term.”

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Sen. JD Vance speaks to members of the media outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse in New York on May 13, 2024. (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller also brushed off Vance’s previous comments, pointing Fox News Digital to Harris’ comments regarding President Biden before she was chosen as his running mate. 

“Kamala Harris described Joe Biden as a racist who opposed integration of public schools and more or less said that Biden palled around with a former leader of the KKK in Robert Byrd. By comparison, President Trump and any of his prospective VP picks will be much more simpatico,” Miller said. 

Throughout the election season, Vance has repeatedly offered his unequivocal support for Trump, including in an interview with Fox News last week when he called Trump a “great president” who brought prosperity, freedom and “peace on the world stage.” 

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Vance also joined Trump in Manhattan court last month when the 45th president faced 34 counts of falsifying business records, calling the case “a threat to American democracy.” Trump was ultimately found guilty in the case, but has maintained his innocence while slamming the trial as election interference promoted by the Biden administration ahead of 2024. 

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President Biden during the first presidential debate with former President Trump in Atlanta on Thursday, June 27, 2024. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Vance is listed alongside other potential picks for Trump’s running mate this year, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and former HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson. 

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Trump has remained coy to the media regarding his running mate choice, but did say this month that he’s made his decision – adding that no one is yet privy to the choice. He added that the eventual running mate would be present during the 2024 presidential debate last Thursday. Vance, alongside other potential veep candidates, was among those present for the debate. 

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Former President Trump speaks during the debate. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump has previously said he will officially announce his choice just ahead or during the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, which will be held from July 15-18. Though the 45th president could make the announcement even sooner.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub. 



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