COLUMBUS, Ohio — With less than a month to go until Election Day, Rep. Tim Ryan, OH-13, is crisscrossing Ohio in a new campaign bus as he tries to win the state’s competitive U.S. Senate race.
What You Need To Know
- Ohio U.S. Senate candidate Tim Ryan kicked off a bus tour across Ohio last week
- With less than a month to go until Election Day, Ryan is continuing to pitch himself to voters as a moderate Democrat who is willing to disagree with his party
- Early voting starts Wednesday, Oct. 12
- Spectrum News spent a day on the trail with Ryan and his opponent, Republican JD Vance
Ryan, a Democrat from northeast Ohio who has served in the U.S. House for 10 terms, made a stop in Columbus last week to visit with the city’s Somali community—the second largest in the country.
“We need somebody to represent all of us, so Tim will be the one,” a speaker said, as he introduced Ryan in a crowded Somali shopping mall.
Ryan is competing against author and venture capitalist JD Vance, who is running as a pro-Donald Trump Republican, for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman.
“We’ve got a very close race, so we absolutely want your support,” Ryan told the crowd in Columbus.
It’s become increasingly difficult for a Democrat to win statewide in Ohio—only Sen. Sherrod Brown has done it in the last decade.
Ryan has been holding his own in this race, in a state former President Donald Trump won twice by eight points.
Ryan has broken multiple fundraising records, has kept the race statistically tied in several independent polls, and has saturated the airwaves with TV ads that cast him as a moderate who keeps his distance from President Joe Biden.
“So when Obama’s trade deal threatened jobs here, I voted against it. And I voted with Trump on trade,” Ryan says in one ad.
Republicans criticize the ads as deceptive, pointing out that Ryan has fully supported Biden’s agenda.
Vance responded with his own ad that says, “TV Tim Ryan? Pretends he’s with you… But DC Tim Ryan votes with Biden and Pelosi 100%.”
Ryan argues there’s evidence to show he has taken on his own party throughout the years.
“I ran against Nancy Pelosi. I’ve gotten in fights with Bernie Sanders. I’ve taken on Democrats. I’ve opposed Obama’s trade deals,” Ryan told Spectrum News after his event in Columbus. “I’ve opposed Biden on the Chinese tariff. I’ve opposed Biden on Title 42 on the border. I’ve opposed Biden [on] student loans. Like, it is very, very clear.”
A key part of Ryan’s strategy throughout the campaign has been reaching out to voters in more rural parts of Ohio that don’t normally support Democrats. He’s hoping to win some of them over while keeping loyal Democrats on his side.
In his official capacity as congressman, Ryan visited a farm in northwest Ohio last week that’s undertaking a project he helped secure funding for.
He often touts his two decades representing Ohio in the U.S. House, while labeling Vance as out-of-touch.
A few minutes’ drive from the farm, a Plumbers and Pipefitters Local union hall had Ryan campaign signs on display. The business manager said Ryan’s message is resonating in traditionally Republican areas throughout northwest Ohio.
“Tim Ryan’s not a real extreme guy one way or the other, and I think that appeals to a lot of people that are undecided,” said Brad Wendel of Local 776 Plumbers and Pipefitters.
In Columbus, Democrats at the Somali voter meet and greet acknowledged Ryan’s strategy could risk pushing away some of the party faithful.
“It could. I sometimes have contemplated that myself because I consider myself a little bit more progressive… but at the same time, I totally understand where he comes from because you can’t always be completely one way,” said Shukri Addo, who lives in Columbus.
Ryan said he sees his approach as the only way a Democrat can once again win statewide in Ohio, and help the Democratic Party keep control of the Senate.
“We’re never going to get out of this mess we’re in, this polarization, if we don’t start acting like Americans first and stop playing the political game,” Ryan told Spectrum News. “And that’s what I’m doing. And that’s why we’re doing well in the polls and that’s why we’re going to win this race.”