Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Morgan Harper takes tour to Dayton

By: - February 10, 2022 3:50 am

Morgan Harper speaking at Third Perk Coffee in Dayton. (photo by Nick Evans)

About a dozen supporters packed into Third Perk Coffee in Dayton Wednesday to meet Morgan Harper, one of the Democrats running for U.S. Senate. Dion Green helped organize the event. He leads The Fudge Foundation, named after his father who was among those killed in the 2019 mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District.

“We speak what’s right for the people,” Green said. “And that’s what I love about her and her campaign, and I know personally that she’s going to stand in front for us.”

Harper, decked out in Jordans with a Bengals AFC champs shirt under a blue blazer, rolled out her stump speech — no money from corporate PACs, a jobs plan centered green energy and Medicare for all — and she took questions from attendees. The crowd was friendly, most of them seemingly familiar with the candidate from her recent but unsuccessful Congressional bid. Over the hour-long session, they asked about issues she’s discussed before like ending qualified immunity, the filibuster and cancelling student debt. As an unabashed progressive, her positions won’t surprise you.

In the wake of Peloton abruptly pulling back from a widely touted factory near Toledo, one attendee asked about how to build opportunities for new grads to stay in Ohio. Harper said she’d bring more scrutiny to those deals, but didn’t rule them out.

“This is all possible through different incentives,” she said. “But you know, I think we need to really focus on making sure we don’t have young people that are straddled with this debt so that they will feel more likely to stay here.”

Interestingly, part of her pitch around jobs doesn’t sound that dissimilar from the one being made across the aisle. Like her counterparts in the GOP, she cites decades of off-shoring countenanced by mainstream politicians from both parties. “The jig is up on all of that,” Harper said. Like Republicans, she points out China’s role in the economic forces drawing jobs away from the U.S., but she criticizes her opponents for resorting to xenophobic terms.

“The difference is that they’re identifying problems that they know real people are aware of, workers throughout our state, and they are weaponizing that to their advantage to be able to win elections, though they have no intention of changing anything,” Harper said.

As for her Democratic opponent, Harper argued it was hypocritical of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, to publicly criticize the obstruction of Democrats like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, while accepting money from Manchin-aligned PACs. Ryan’s campaign received a total $15,000 from committees connected to Manchin. Harper argued this looks like more of the same to voters, and that Ohio needs “a different kind of Democrat” to energize voters come November.

“It’s no longer that people will either vote for a Democrat or they’re going to vote for a Republican,” Harper said. “It’s that people who in the past maybe were likely to vote for Democrats are now opting out altogether.”

Ryan’s campaign downplays the money from Manchin, noting it’s less than a fifth of 1% of what they’ve raised. Campaign spokesperson Izzi Levy also pointed to Ryan’s voting record in support of measures like Build Back Better and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and at odds with Manchin.

“He answers to the people of Ohio, and he’ll always do what’s right for Ohio,” Levy said in a statement. “Including standing up to members of his own party, whether it’s Joe Manchin or Joe Biden — a clear contrast with the clown car of anti-worker, country club elitists running against him.”

Harper rounds out the week with visits to Cleveland on Thursday, and stops in Toledo and Lima on Friday as part of her Ohio Opportunity Guarantee Tour.

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Nick Evans
Nick Evans

Nick Evans has spent the past seven years reporting for NPR member stations in Florida and Ohio. He got his start in Tallahassee, covering issues like redistricting, same sex marriage and medical marijuana. Since arriving in Columbus in 2018, he has covered everything from city council to football. His work on Ohio politics and local policing have been featured numerous times on NPR.

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