Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance‘s campaign accused the state’s largest newspaper of racism Wednesday after it published a political cartoon mocking his opposition to the Cleveland Guardians baseball team changing their name from the Indians.

The city’s Plain Dealer newspaper ran the cartoon by Jeff Darcy last week showing Vance standing next to his Democratic opponent, Rep. Tim Ryan, on a debate stage clad in San Francisco Giants gear.

“Only Indians name change I support is my wife’s to ‘Senator J.D. Vance’s Spouse,’” the cartoon depicts Vance saying.

Vance has been married to Usha Chilukuri, his former Yale Law School classmate and an Indian-American woman, since 2014.

In a statement, Vance chief strategist Jai Chabria called on the Plain Dealer to “condemn their actions immediately, or perhaps this racism is OK because it’s against a Republican.”

Ohio GOP Senate candidate JD Vance and his wife, Usha.
Ohio Republican Senate candidate JD Vance and his wife, Usha, at a campaign event.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“I’m a first-generation Indian American and my immigrant parents taught me to love this country as much as they do, which is why I’ve never been one to bring race into the conversation,” Chabria said. “However, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s woke editors published a cartoon that explicitly encourages bigotry against Indian women by perpetuating a stereotype.”

The cartoon was a jab at Vance’s criticism of the Major League Baseball team for changing their name to the Cleveland Guardians. Vance used the attack on one of his Republican primary rivals, state Sen. Matt Dolan — whose family owns the team.

“When the woke mob came after the Cleveland Indians, he bent the knee and changed their name,” Vance said of Dolan in a January interview with Fox News.

“If you’re not willing to stand up for a team that you own, a legacy institution in the state of Ohio, how can you actually stand up against … all of the powerful actors that are making it hard for conservatives to actually have a fair stake in this debate.”

In a short story accompanying the cartoon, Darcy explained that he put Vance in the Giants jersey to note the Middletown, Ohio native’s ties to California.

“Don’t expect to see J.D. Vance sporting any Cleveland Guardians garb,” he wrote. “He’s more likely to be in San Francisco Giants gear. Vance had transplanted to the bay city where he made his $millions as a venture capitalist, wrote his bestselling memoir, ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ met and married his wife, Usha, an attorney who works for a San Francisco-Washington DC law firm.”

The cartoonist did not mention that Vance’s San Francisco move came after an impoverished childhood, a tour with the Marine Corps in Iraq, and graduations from Ohio State University and Yale Law.

The Cleveland Guardian's logo.
Cleveland’s major league club, previously named the Indians, was renamed the Guardians for the 2022 season.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Plain Dealer endorsed Ryan for Senate on Sunday, four days after the cartoon ran.


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