Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance will not speak at a Republican Party of Minnesota event scheduled for next month, with Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, taking his place.

A state party official told the Minneapolis Star Tribune the change for the 2022 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in Bloomington on April 1 was due to a scheduling conflict. 

Minnesota GOP Executive Director Mike Lonergan told the Star Tribune in a statement it would host Vance when schedules allow.

“We are excited to have CPAC Chairman and author of ‘The Desecrators’ Matt Schlapp as our speaker and looking forward to a successful event!” Lonergan said. 

“We look forward to hosting J.D. Vance when the schedule permits,” he added.

The change comes after the “Hillbilly Elegy” author faced criticism from Democrats and some Republicans for comments about Ukraine.

Vance made headlines last month after an appearance on Steve Bannon’s podcast “War Room,” when he said “I think it’s ridiculous that we’re focused on this border in Ukraine.”

The interview took place before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine but after it had amassed more than 100,000 troops along the border.

“I got to be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other,” he added.

The comment sparked criticism inside and outside the Republican Party, according to the Star Tribune.

Vance issued a lengthy statement days after that calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “a tragedy.” 

“Russia’s assault on Ukraine is unquestionably a tragedy, especially the innocent people caught in the crossfire,” Vance wrote.

The statement also praised former President Trump for his “strength and diplomatic engagement that kept [Russian President Vladimir Putin] in check” during his time in the White House, and slammed President Biden for “his lack of leadership.”

Vance also made headlines last week after the candidates went head-to-head in a primary debate. Investment banker Mike Gibbons and former State Treasurer Josh Mandel engaged in a heated discussion regarding military service, which Vance commented on later in the event.

Mandel, in response to a jab from Gibbons, pointed to his military service, saying “two tours in Iraq, don’t tell me I haven’t worked.” Vance, however, took issue with that line of defense.

“I just gotta comment on what we just saw. Look, as the only other person who’s served his country in uniform, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, my mamaw had six grandchildren, three of them enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. I think the way you use the U.S. Marine Corps, Josh, is disgraceful,” Vance said, prompting applause.

“Think about what we just saw. This guy wants to be a U.S. senator and he’s up here, ‘hold me back, hold me back, I got two tours in the Marine Corps!’ What a joke! Answer the question, stop playing around,” he added.

Vance is vying for the Ohio Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). The race has turned into one of the most-watched contests this midterm cycle.

Gibbons, Mandel, former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken and state Sen. Matt Dolan (R) are all running for the GOP nomination.

In a Fox News poll conducted earlier this month, Gibbons and Mandel led the field with 22 percent and 20 percent support among GOP primary voters, respectively. Vance came in third with 11 percent support.

After last week’s debate, a straw poll of about 400 voters at the forum showed majority support for Vance, who won about 43 percent of the vote, while Timken earned second place with about 20 percent of the vote.

Updated at 3:35 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Ohio Senate primary Rob Portman Steve Bannon Vladimir Putin

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