COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken is one of six serious GOP candidates running for the U.S. Senate seat Rob Portman is retiring from this year.
Last week, Spectrum News followed Timken on the trail in central Ohio to see, in-person, how she’s hoping her time as party chair, continued devotion to Donald Trump, and at least $2 million of her own money is the recipe for success in the crowded primary.
At her campaign headquarters in Columbus, Spectrum News Washington Bureau Reporter Taylor Popielarz conducted a sit-down interview with Timken to gauge where she stands on various policy issues.
You can watch their full, unedited conversation or read the full transcript below:
Transcript from Jan. 13, 2022 interview:
Taylor: Jane, thank you so much for the time, it's good to see you. You've been running this race for a while. Now, I know you probably have some of these answers locked down. But let's start off with the basics so that people could kind of understand why you're running. What would you say are three policies that you're advocating for that would positively impact Ohioans?
Jane: Sure, well, this is driven by what I hear from Ohioans as I go around the state talking to people. I'm in this race for Ohioans, for our families, our businesses, our communities and our workers. We need policies that are going to transform our economy. We are in a difficult economic situation, we have rising inflation, gas prices are rising, we need the workforce workers to get back to work because we have supply chain issues. So fundamentally, we need, in terms of policy, is to encourage workers to return to work, we need energy independence. We've seen from the Biden administration, from day one, they shut down the Keystone Pipeline, they're attacking the oil and gas industry. And Ohio has 200,000 jobs related to the oil and gas industry and a large manufacturing base. We can't produce if we don't have reliable, sustainable energy that we can manufacture. So that's going to be a priority of mine. We also have to talk about the education issue, because as I travel around the state — back in the spring, I started hearing from parents. They were very concerned about what's happening in their schools. And it's not just Critical Race Theory. But it's the school shutdowns, it's the remote learning, it's the loss of learning that's happening for their children, their mental health. So I'd like to propose policies that will ensure that children are getting a good education. And that dovetails into that workforce issue. Because as I've traveled around the state, I've also heard from a lot of employers who can't find the workers to come back to work, but also workers with the skills that they need. And so we do some of this in the state of Ohio, but as national federal policy, if a company's going to invest in a tech school or a high school or technical training for a worker, train that worker, hire that worker, there should be some tax credits involved in that. I think it's a win-win. We have a wonderful workforce in the state of Ohio, they need to be trained for the jobs that are here and the jobs the future. And so it's energy policy, it’s workforce, it’s education.
Taylor: You talk about workforce. If you were elected to be a senator, what would you specifically do to bring manufacturing jobs back to Ohio?
Jane: Sure. Manufacturing in Ohio has had a lot of headwinds over the last few years, and I've seen it firsthand. And I talked about it with the energy policies. To produce in Ohio, you need to have reliable sources of energy, number one. We need to reduce the regulatory environment. President Trump did that. For every new regulation, there was a reduction in two regulations. That spurred a lot of capital growth and development and job growth. We also need to return to manufacturing made in America. Those trade policies that President Trump put into place benefited our workers here in Ohio. I think we've seen with the pandemic that we cannot rely on production overseas, it needs to be returned back here. And so it's training the workers for the future, it's creating reliable sources of energy, and then creating an economic environment that businesses are willing to make capital investments that are reliable. They're also facing a headwind with the Biden administration — the Democrats are proposing significant tax increases. I've heard from employers and business owners who say 'I'm not sure what my budget is going to look like for next year. I'm not sure whether I can make capital investments to expand my business.' We saw the exact opposite of that under the Trump administration, where people were getting — they saw a reduction in their taxes, they were giving more benefits to their workers in terms of bonuses, but they were also investing in their business and growing their business and adding workers to their business. We need to get back to those policies.
Taylor: Do you believe in climate change?
Jane: Look, I live on a farm. I believe that we should protect our environment. And I think that, obviously, the climate is always changing. But I will not support policies that ruin our economy and jeopardize our workforce and jeopardize the competitiveness of this country.
Taylor: I know you're against the Green New Deal, as an example, even though that's not really going anywhere in Congress right now. But if you were to get elected to the Senate, how would you go about producing and getting into law what you would consider reasonable policies to deal with the climate?
Jane: Sure, well every policy that I would put forth would have to have a cost-benefit analysis. In fact, we have had significant reduction in our carbon footprint in this country. What's really happening and, you know, we saw Biden go out and renegotiate and start to engage in the Paris Accords. What they're not doing is holding China accountable for the amount of emissions that are coming out of China. Climate change is something that's happening, we can talk about protecting our environment, but my priority is getting our workforce back, our workers working again, our economy going again. And that would be my first priority.
Taylor: What would you propose cutting to lower the national debt?
Jane: We have an out of control bureaucracy. It is beyond what's happening. Every single agency I think is spending way too much money. And I think one of our biggest problems is Congress has abdicated its oversight of our agencies. The federal government — look, I balance my budget, every family in Ohio has to balance their budget, they cannot spend more than what they take in. We need to get to the point where the federal government gets to that. It's bankrupting our country and putting the lives and livelihood of my children, your children, our grandchildren at stake. Because that debt is going to have to be paid. And the Democrats are continuing to spend more and more money. We are on track to spend, if they got their way, $6 trillion plus. It's outrageous. That bill's going to have to be paid someday. And the first thing I would do would be start taking red lines to the budgets of all these agencies that I think have — there’s a lot of fat there that needs to be cut.
Taylor: I want to talk a bit about foreign policy. Obviously, we saw the withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer. It was a bit of a mess. If you were in the Senate, what would you suggest in terms of how the U.S. deals with the Middle East going forward now that we have pulled out of Afghanistan?
Jane: Well, and that was an unmitigated disaster and a stain on our country. We left American citizens behind. 13 soldiers were killed. We created a devastating vacuum in the Middle East. It's the exact wrong policy because we've also emboldened the Taliban, who are, you know, a terrorist group. And we - they are wreaking havoc in the Middle East, and it's yet to be seen the long term effects of that. The United States policy in the Middle East should be supporting our ally Israel. And I was very supportive of President Trump when he moved the embassy to Jerusalem, but most importantly, the Abraham Accords that brought great trade to the Middle East. But the problem with the Biden administration is they've shown weakness and they have made this country less safe. And what we need [is] to get back to the days where our enemies feared us and our allies respected us, and we supported our allies. I believe in peace through strength. And we are showing weakness and inviting terrorism in the world.
Taylor: Did you support taking American troops out of Afghanistan? Or did you think some should have stayed?
Jane: So I always thought that, you know, there were 2,500 troops on the ground. There should have always been conditions before they were completely pulled out. And the United States should not be in endless wars, we can all agree on that. But there always has to be some sort of buffer to make sure that we are not creating a vacuum and creating a situation where the Middle East is less safe and our country is less safe, and the world is less safe. And so, as far as I understand, under the Trump administration, it was always dependent on conditions on the ground. I think the intelligence is now saying that we know that the intelligence and the generals were telling Biden not to pull out, but he did it anyways, and to disastrous effects. And as I said, we do not know the long term effects of that. But we now, after blood was shed in Afghanistan, we have created a situation where it's dangerous and the American people are less safe.
Taylor: Back here in the U.S., you mentioned that you live on a farm. In the Senate, what types of agriculture policies would you advocate for to help Ohio farmers? What do you think the federal government needs to do or needs to stop doing?
Jane: Sure. Well, the number one thing that I hear from farmers is the regulatory environment for farmers. Farmers cannot keep up with the regulations. And we've seen — I live on a farm, and one of the things that I try to explain to people is the waters of the United States, where the Army Corps of Engineer wants to regulate every puddle on a farm. Do you know how many puddles are created on my farm if it rains for two days? I don't think that the federal government should be regulating the puddles on my farm. But the biggest issue also is the inflation that is happening is affecting our farmers. I talked to two farmers last week, two different people who told me that fertilizer is up four times what it was last year. They can't also get it because the companies that provide it don't know what the price will be. And that affects our crops because they can't put the fertilizer on the ground to then till and plant this spring. And we're getting closer and closer to that point. So farmers and then energy. The cost of fuel and diesel for farmers is affecting them. And they're in a very difficult situation. There's a lot of stress in the farming community. The super regulatory environment — we need to end the regulations and we need to lower the cost of energy.
Taylor: Let’s talk about coronavirus now, obviously something we all want to go away. You've said publicly that you got vaccinated. Have you been boosted?
Jane: Yes, I have.
Taylor: Okay. I looked up the numbers in Ohio as of yesterday that the Department of Health put out. At this point over 30,000 Ohioans have died from COVID throughout this pandemic. Right now, there's almost 7,000 currently hospitalized. But there was a striking statistic that one year ago, January 2021, since then, 95% of the Ohioans who have died from COVID were not fully vaccinated. So you've talked about getting vaccinated, but you've also talked about being against vaccine mandates? How are you against mandates when we know that this vaccine is so effective at keeping people alive?
Jane: Sure. It's because it's individual freedom. And as I've said, I've been vaccinated, I've been boosted. But I don't think I should be the one telling you your own individual health care decisions. And I think that we've seen just today, it was announced that the Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration's employer vaccine mandate. And, look, this is — COVID has been devastating for this country. And I think that we can all try to be safe, but it's up to the individual. And I do not think that the federal government should be mandating people's vaccines. Especially, keep in mind, these vaccines are under emergency use authorization. And by the way, the CDC just came out and said that 75% of the deaths are deaths with COVID, not because of COVID. So I think we've seen a lot of distrust from the federal government and how they've handled COVID. And that's why you're also seeing a lot of vaccine hesitancy. I don't think it's the right message when you're telling people you must do this, instead of educating people on how this could help them.
Taylor: With that in mind, I know you're a mother and when you sent your kids to school, I'm sure they had to get certain types of vaccines to go into school. There are vaccines that people in the military have to get. Do you think all mandates for all vaccines should go away?
Jane: I think it should really be a health care decision between a parent and an individual. And I made the clear distinction between this vaccine because, for example, other vaccines have been around for several years, we are aware of the adverse effects of them. This is emergency use authorization. And I think that parents should be empowered to make these decisions because there are risks with every vaccine, and people need to understand that. That is the case. And I think I made the choices to get my children vaccinated, but I also made sure that I didn't do them all at once too, because I think that those vaccines can have an effect on the body.
Taylor: You talked about that being a personal medical decision. That nobody else should be telling someone else what they should do. We were just visiting a Women's Care Center, where obviously they're trying to prevent women from getting abortions. How does that mentality with the vaccines not apply to somebody wanting to choose if they want to get an abortion?
Jane: The biggest distinction there is there is another life involved. And that is why that, you know, I believe that we should protect that life in the womb. And as I said, I'm a mom, I take this very personally, I'm Catholic, I'm pro-life. I go around the state of Ohio visiting pregnancy centers, because if you're going to be pro-life, you also have to help that mother if they choose life to bring that baby into the world. And help them along the process in their pregnancy and then help them afterwards with the items that they need to be a successful mother and parent and have a successful child.
Taylor: Switching to another issue. How do you think — and you've mapped this out before — but reiterate how you think the federal government should approach securing the southern border?
Jane: Sure. Well, look, we need to enforce the laws on the books. What has happened under Joe Biden is a disaster. Under President Trump, we had a mostly secure southern border. And as a country, it's a matter of our sovereignty to know who's coming into our country. We see record numbers of fentanyl and gang-related activities coming across the border. And it's affecting Ohioans right here. We had record overdoses last year, and all of those drugs are coming from the southern border. We have to secure our border. I'm adamant about that. And what we need to do is reinstate 'Remain in Mexico,' we need to make sure we're vetting people who are coming across the southern border, we need to once people are caught, they should be returned. This is not an open country, an open border. We must be a country that secures our border, it's about our national security. We've caught people who are on the national terrorist list coming across. We’ve had two million people that were arrested crossing the border, right? But they are now remaining in this country. That's doesn't account for all the other hundreds of thousands of people that never encountered a border agent. The Biden administration has vilified border agents for doing their job. We need to make sure that we're securing our border. I don't see why we couldn't continue to build the wall. The Biden administration said, 'No, you have to stop.' We've left millions of materials at the southern border, just wasting, just wasting. And when the state of Texas said can we use it to build the wall? The federal government said no. That kind of nonsense needs to stop.
Taylor: Should Dreamers have a pathway to citizenship?
Jane: Look, before we have any discussion about immigration reform, we need to secure the border.
Taylor: Another part of President Biden's agenda has been the Build Back Better Act, which obviously stalled in the Senate. It would be a very large bill that would cover a lot of things. Some of the policies that it would look to do is invest more money into paid family leave, universal pre-K, expanding care for elderly folks, and expanding the Child Tax Credit. Can you explain why you are for or against those specific things that a lot of families, no matter their political party, say 'Yeah, that's helpful.’
Jane: Sure. I call it the 'Build Back Broke Bill' because it will bankrupt this country. Again, the Democrats are spending trillions and trillions of dollars that we can’t afford. And the reason why I'm against it is because bankrupting our country does not help any family, does not help their future. It creates more and more inflation, which makes it harder and harder for them to fill up their gas tank and go buy groceries. Inflation is at a 40-year high, and this type of money will infuse more money into our system, creating more and more inflation. It's the wrong time to do it. And even Senator Joe Manchin has said if you're getting a Child Tax Credit, you actually have to pay taxes. And I have talked to people who — there was a mom who, with her life savings, she bought a Dairy Queen franchise. Do you know that she told me she has to shut down every other time that her employees get their Child Tax Credit because they say, 'I don't have to go to work.' We're disincentivizing people from working. And that's going to be the ultimate downfall of our country and our economy and our competitiveness.
Taylor: Biden’s infrastructure package that focused on roads and bridges and kind of core infrastructure did become law. Senator Rob Portman, Republican from here in Ohio, helped write the bill, supported it. How do you explain to people who look at that and say that's going to send hundreds of millions of dollars to Ohio for roads, bridges, the Brent Spence Bridge, how could you be against that? How do you justify it?
Jane: Well, because actually, the reality is only 10% of that bill is actually roads, bridges and broadband.
Taylor: It’s more than 10%.
Jane: Well, we can debate that. But there is a lot in that bill that was not actually infrastructure. And the other question about it is, who gets to decide where that money goes? It’s [Transportation Secretary] Pete Buttigieg. That whole system was set up wrong. And I also think that it led for the Democrats to attempt to pass their ‘Build Back Broke Bill.’ And that's why I was against the infrastructure bill.
Taylor: Do you think Sen. Portman and the other Republican senators who cosigned it with him, did they get played, in your opinion?
Jane: Look, Sen. Portman, I think, was well intended in all of that. Where I think the problem is, you know, I've negotiated a lot of deals in my life, and if the other side is constantly moving the goalposts, I would walk.
Taylor: You’re obviously running to succeed Sen. Portman because he will be leaving. How do you think he's done as a senator overall?
Jane: I think Sen. Portman has been an effective leader for Ohio. He's accomplished a lot for Ohio. And I especially admire what he's done on our opioid epidemic. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that he helped pass. Those are things that were critically important for Ohio and he was a great public servant and should be respected.
Taylor: His wife, also named Jane, it's been publicized that she's helped fundraise for you and your campaign. Are you expecting the senator to endorse you?
Jane: Well, I would welcome his endorsement, obviously. I'm always focused on the endorsement of the people of Ohio. So that's why I spend a lot of time on the road asking for Ohioans for their vote. I am running this race for Ohioans because I want Ohioans to know that I will listen to them, and I will be in this fight for them, and make sure that I'm serving them because that would be my job as their next United States Senator.
Taylor: It was reported earlier on in this race — it feels like it's been going on forever — but that former President Trump was initially inclined to endorse you kind of very early out of the gate, and then somebody spoke to him and said not yet. And he still hasn't jumped into that race, into this race. Was that something you were under the impression of, that you had locked up his endorsement early on?
Jane: Well look, I would always welcome President Trump's endorsement in this race. But as I said, I'm always seeking the endorsement of the Ohio voter. I'm a person who likes to be a candidate of addition, and always bringing more and more people into supporting me. And that's why I say I'm the true grassroots, America First Senate candidate. I have broad grassroots support across the state of Ohio, the endorsement of over 175 Republican elected officials, and great volunteers and grassroots supporters that help us go out and make our one millionth voter contact. Because we're always on the ground listening to the voters of Ohio. And that's an important aspect of representing Ohio.
Taylor: Why do you think Trump hasn't yet weighed in on this race?
Jane: You know, it's entirely up to President Trump. But I will always be seeking the endorsement and support of Ohioans. And I welcome any endorsement.
Taylor: You’ve stated before, in interviews with me and forums that you've been a part of, that you felt there was pretty widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Yes or no, just so people know where you clearly stand, do you agree with the lie that President Trump is still pushing that the election was stolen from him?
Jane: I’ve always said, repeatedly, I think there were incredible issues with the 2020 election. I do think that there was fraud. I think that there was instances — if you look right now, Georgia has just reopened an investigation into their 2020 election because they found massive ballot harvesting. We never got to the bottom of what happened in 2020, so I supported the audits all across the state. There is no doubt in my mind that there were some serious issues with the 2020 election. But what we have right now going on is the Democrats — just to try to distract the American people from what's really going on: rising inflation, rising crime, a border crisis — now they're pushing the For the People Act, which I call 'For the Democrats Act.’ Because they didn't get 'Build Back Broke' done, so now they know that they are in a terrible situation, so they're going to push a change in election laws. And it's all designed for them to have more power, because they want to nationalize our elections, they want no voter verification, they want massive mail balloting. It's all designed to help Democrats, and that's what it's about. It's about Democrats’ power. We should be talking about what they're trying to do to this country. And when we talk about election integrity, they're the ones who are destroying election integrity if they pass these bills.
Taylor: When it comes to the 2020 election, though, and I just want to push you a bit on it. When you say you believe there was widespread fraud and you have concerns about what was documented, we also know that multiple states have conducted multiple audits. And they've all come back with pretty similar results. Some have found more votes for Biden than Trump when they've gone back to look at it. And I think it's a sticking point because a lot of your opponents in this race are declaring that the election was stolen. Donald Trump is still saying it. So do you feel there was enough fraud to say, ‘I’m concerned it was stolen.’ Or do you rule that out? Because there is fraud in every election, it's usually just on a small scale.
Jane: Well, I think it was widespread in this case and —
Taylor: — Enough to be considered stolen?
Jane: — And I've said publicly that I would not have certified the election.
Taylor: Okay. The Club for Growth, I'm sure you saw, has a new TV ad out going after you specifically. And it talks about the interview you gave talking about Congressman Anthony Gonzalez — this was before you entered the race. Do you regret saying that he had a “rational reason” for why he voted for impeachment?
Jane: Well, look, I've been very clear about where I stand with Anthony Gonzalez. And in fact, I'm the only candidate in this race who spoke out against the first and second impeachment. The rest of the candidates were nowhere to be found when the impeachments were going on. I’ve called for Anthony Gonzalez to resign, he has resigned — or he's not running for reelection. And I supported his censorship. And I've made that very, very clear.
Taylor: Do you regret though — because I think, especially as people are plugging into this race now. If they look, and they say, 'Oh, that interview you gave was in January 2021. And then you jumped into the race not long after. Clearly that was a flipflop because you became a candidate.' How would you explain that to a voter?
Jane: I think it was also the tone that was taken out of context. But I think I was very clear from the get-go that I was against the impeachment.
Taylor: Okay. Two more topics for you. How much did you raise from supporters in the fourth quarter? Are you able to say that yet?
Jane: We haven't finalized our numbers. But we will announce — you don't report until the end of the month.
Taylor: Got it. And as of this point, at least as of the third quarter numbers, you've loaned your campaign $2 million from your family's money. How much more are you willing to invest from your own family's fortune?
Jane: Look, this is a very important race. I will invest what I think is appropriate to make sure that we are successful.
Taylor: And then lastly, for you, if you do get elected, have you thought about what committees you might want to serve on?
Jane: Sure. So a lot of the committees I've thought about are the Agricultural Committee because agriculture is such a big part of Ohio's economy. I live on a farm, and so that's important. Appropriations because I think we need to control our spending, and I think the power of the purse is very important. Obviously, the Judiciary Committee would be something I'm interested in, and it's not because I want to weigh in on judicial appointments, but that is important, but it's because the Judiciary Committee has a lot of jurisdiction over the border. And then the Energy Committee, because I think we need to get our energy policy right here in this country because it's about our American competitiveness. And then lastly, it would be Education, Labor and Pension.
Taylor: Got it. We covered a lot. Is there anything else you want to add?
Jane: No, it's great.
Taylor: All right. Thanks so much.
Jane: Thank you.
End of interview.