Tim Ryan asked why National Democrats didn’t get involved in his Ohio Senate race. In an interview with the Washington Post, the congressman spoke about the competitiveness of the race. Ryan said his campaign shows the party can still appeal to working-class voters in the state. Something is loading.
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Rep. Tim Ryan ran arguably one of the Democratic Party’s strongest Senate campaigns in the 2022 midterm cycle, breaking through with enough voters in Republican-leaning Ohio to keep the race competitive against GOP candidate JD Vance — even when many in his party instead looked to Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to reverse seats.
Ryan, a ten-term congressman from the Mahoning Valley, has led a deeply populist campaign, taking to restaurants and union halls across the state and preaching against unfettered free trade to try to replicate a coalition of working-class voters that used to boost the Democratic Party. candidates in the former perennial swing state in the Midwest. And he refused to cede any ground to the Republicans, a relief for Democrats who have lamented the party’s decline in rural America.
But despite polls showing a close contest between Ryan and Vance, national Democrats have largely avoided throwing large sums of money into the Ohio Senate race, prompting Ryan to call what he sees as a short-sighted strategy in the fight for a seat that might be handy for the party.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Ryan criticized the election strategy National Democrats have pursued as they struggled to win Senate races in recent cycles in states where they were once competitive, which made the party too dependent on winning in the blue states. (Two independents — Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine — caucus with the 48-member Democratic caucus.)
“National Democrats are notorious for not making very good strategic decisions over the years,” Ryan told the Post. “There’s a frustration among grassroots Democrats that the leadership doesn’t quite understand where we want this party to be.”
Democrats are defending their fragile Senate majority made possible by double Senate victories in Georgia in January 2021 and the decisive vote of Kamala Harris as vice president. But they seek to win at the midpoint when the ruling party typically loses seats, and President Joe Biden’s poor reputation in Ohio hasn’t helped Ryan.
In an Emerson College/The Hill poll released earlier this month of likely voters, Biden’s job approval rating in the state was 37%, with 57% of respondents disapproving.
However, the same poll showed Vance barely ahead of Ryan (46%-45%).
Ohio Republican Senate candidate JD Vance speaks to reporters following a GOP debate at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio on March 28, 2022. Photo/Paul Vernon, File
Despite Ryan’s competitiveness, parties generally have to prioritize races where they have the best chance of winning with limited funding, and in Ohio – where Democrats not named Sherrod Brown have generally not fared well in recent years. years – the party candidate finds himself in a difficult place.
Ryan said his campaign shows Democrats can win back many working-class voters who have largely left the party, as many backed former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 before pulling the lever. former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. (Obama and Trump have both won Ohio every time they have been on the ballot in a general election.)
In his interview with The Post, Ryan openly questioned why the Democratic Party leaders “don’t smell of blood” in taking down Vance, a former venture capitalist who wrote the bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.”
“We have 350,000 donors,” the congressman told the newspaper. “It’s the people who are frustrated.”
The Senate Majority PAC, the main outside Democratic spending group seeking to help the party retain control of the upper house, did not help Ohio’s race, according to The Post.
However, other organizations have spent at least $1 million on the congressman’s behalf, according to the newspaper.
But Republican groups are now spending more than $30 million to boost Vance, according to Politico.
Still, Democratic-aligned groups are watching the race closely.
JB Poersch, the Senate Majority Chairman PAC, said in a statement to the Post that Ryan was “running a remarkably strong campaign” and noted that the group could still alter its spending plans.
“We will continue to make strategic and effective decisions that put us in the best possible position to accomplish our mission: to defend our Democratic majority in the Senate,” he told the newspaper.