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New U.S. Senator J.D. VanceScreenshot/Twitter

(LifeSiteNews) — Freshman U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance has endorsed Donald Trump in his 2024 re-election bid, making him one of the first Republican lawmakers to wade into what looks to be a monumental clash between the former president and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In an op-ed that appeared in The Wall Street Journal this week, Vance touted Trump’s foreign policy accomplishments as the primary reason for his support.

“In Mr. Trump’s four years in office, he started no wars despite enormous pressure from his own party and even members of his own administration,” Vance wrote. “Donald Trump’s presidency marked the first real disruption to a failed consensus and the terrible consequences it wrought.”

Vance, who was raised in western Ohio but attended Yale for law school, was endorsed by Trump in a crowded primary race that included several prominent state Republican officials last year. Vance had never held public office previously but ultimately emerged victorious. He defeated Democrat Tim Ryan by a 53%-47% margin in the general election. PayPal founder Peter Theil, who famously called on conservatives to forget “fake culture wars” at the 2016 Republican National Convention, donated more than $15 million dollars to a Super PAC that supported Vance during his campaign.

Vance first rose to fame after the publication of his 2016 memoir Hillbilly Elegy, which recounted his family’s roots in Appalachia. He represents an emerging strain of nationalist lawmakers who vehemently dissent from what has long been considered Republican orthodoxy — international free trade, open borders, economic deregulation, and an active military presence overseas. Vance, who notably did not blame Trump for Republican woes during the midterm elections, has spoken out against those policies on a number of occasions, especially during his many appearances on Tucker Carlson’s program.

Vance’s blue-collar, populist conservatism is shared by a growing number of GOP lawmakers, including Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, and Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has been rumored to be a strong contender for Trump’s vice-presidential pick. America First conservatives — as they are sometimes called — broadly seek to enact laws that proactively support the family unit, defend Christian values, secure the border, and assist small businesses and communities devastated by globalization.

During his first few weeks in office, Vance has demanded an audit of money sent to Ukraine and has resisted Republican calls to reform entitlements. He’s a board member for the D.C.-based American Moment organization and in 2019 delivered a lecture titled “Beyond Libertarianism” at the National Conservatism conference. He’s also written for The American Conservative, which takes a realist perspective on foreign policy questions.

Vance’s endorsement comes amid an escalating feud between Trump and DeSantis, who is believed to be planning an announcement to run for president this summer. Trump took to Truth Social this week to attack DeSantis’ handling of the COVID pandemic, particularly his lockdown and reopening plans. He also called him a “globalist.” Trump surrogate Roger Stone has likewise accused DeSantis of enacting poor COVID policies. In response, DeSantis brushed off Trump’s criticisms but did not identify him by name. DeSantis won re-election in the Sunshine State last year by a whopping 19 points, thanks largely to his no-nonsense approach and dismantling of programs pushed by woke liberals.