OHIO (WTRF) – 7NEWS is your Local Election Headquarters, and the Senate race in Ohio is heating up.

Late last week, former President Donald Trump endorsed Republican candidate JD Vance for the upcoming May 3rd primary. I spoke to Vance Monday afternoon about the endorsement, and the state of the primary race right now as we move into the home stretch.

Though initially a bit of a harsh critic towards Mr. Trump during the run-up to the 2016 election, Vance softened over the course of the Trump Administration.

The other two frontrunners in the Republican primary race, banker Mike Gibbons and former state treasurer Josh Mandel, have consistently attacked Vance on his initial aversion to the former President. In the end, this tactic did not net either of them a Trump endorsement.

Mandel and Gibbons have been polling slightly above Vance in the race to this point, but a February poll by Emerson showed 6 out of 10 Republican voters would likely vote for the candidate endorsed by Mr. Trump. Vance tells me that he believes the race is very close between himself, Gibbons and Mandel, and that the candidate with the most momentum at the end will come out on top.

“Such a great endorsement to have, obviously the leader of the party and the leader of the broader movement here. And I think given how much my opponents have attacked me for criticizing Donald Trump 6 years ago, it’s good to have that sort of stamp of approval from the man himself, saying look I trust this guy, I believe in this guy, he’s going to be the best Senator for the state of Ohio. So it really accomplishes a lot for the campaign and I think gives us the momentum we’re gonna need to win this thing.”

JD Vance, (R) Ohio Senate Candidate

Vance has not spoken to his primary challengers since the endorsement, but he says, “I think they’re all coping and seething a little bit.”

He tells me that he was having a milkshake with his son when he learned of the endorsement, and got the call from Mr. Trump. Though very excited, Vance says it can be difficult to explain to a 4-year-old that you just got a call from the President.

The primary election is set for May 3rd, so stay with 7NEWS for all of your election coverage.