U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan talks to reporters after the U.S. Senate race was called in his favor on Tuesday night. (Photo: Susan Tebben, OCJ)
Basing his campaign on hopes to reign in China and reduce partisanship in the U.S. Senate, Congressman Tim Ryan won his race against Morgan Harper and Traci Johnson for the Democratic nomination in unofficial results Tuesday night.
Ryan easily slid past Harper with 70% of the vote, according to unofficial counts by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.
Ryan, the Mahoning County native who’s currently a U.S. House Representative, met with supporters and media at the Firefighters Local 67 in Columbus, proclaiming renewed hope for Ohio on the federal stage and calling the Senate race the “marquee” race in the country.
His comments Tuesday night focused on not just galvanizing a Democratic base, but blurring the partisan lines to bring conservatives to his side.
“I feel like I’m representing the exhausted majority of people in this state,” Ryan told reporters. “And I want everybody to know that we’re going to focus on jobs and the economy; we’re going to work with businesses to get this done; and we want to make sure everybody knows they have a home in this campaign.”
Though she came up short on Tuesday, Harper expressed gratitude for voters and campaign workers who came along on her journey, and drove home a message of hope for the future. She said voters she talked to were empowered to vote because of their desires for future policy.
“At the end of the day, I’m just so proud of how many people we have been able to connect with and let them know that we don’t have to keep living like this, in fact there’s a very clear vision of how we get to a better place,” Harper said at a campaign event in downtown Columbus.
After news of a draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that looked to reduce the power of Roe v. Wade, both Harper and Ryan said Ohioans were using the power of their vote to speak out against the possible changes, that could lead to abortion bans in the state if legislation sitting in the General Assembly is passed and signed.
“I met voters that told me they were only showing up to vote because of what was likely to occur with Roe v. Wade and what was happening with the (U.S.) Supreme Court,” Harper said.
But alarm and imminent legislation shouldn’t be the only thing that brings voters to the polls, and Harper said Democrats like Ryan need to understand that going into November.
“It’s not enough to just have things happening around us that are very scary to drive the turnout that we need,” Harper said. “We need to have messengers and campaigns that are going to meet people where they’re at and present enough of an alternative that people can believe in to make them feel like their vote matters.”
Ryan said he plans to use the motivation voters had on the issue to make sure it gets addressed amid his general election campaign. Though his voting patterns on abortion in his tenure with the U.S. House have been mixed, Ryan said the issue goes beyond political party, and should be treated as government overreach.
“The state can force you to have a baby if you were raped or there was incest? I mean, that’s ludicrous, and I think that transcends any political party,” Ryan said.
As he moves on to a November election with unofficial Republican winner J.D. Vance, Ryan said his goals will be to avoid partisan rhetoric and focus on bringing along voters whose values, he says, don’t match up with Vance.
The GOP race was tight, with Ohio state Sen. Matt Dolan trailing behind Vance in a back-and-forth race with Josh Mandel. Ryan said Dolan is a “great guy” who “stood up to Trump,” leading Ryan to believe his voters could be great for the Democrat’s campaign.
“Those people who voted for Matt Dolan have nothing in common with J.D. Vance, and they belong in our camp because they’re the healers, they’re the ones who want to make this thing go,” Ryan said.
In his victory speech on Tuesday night, Vance said Ryan “is running as a Trump Democrat.”
The U.S. Representative doubled down on comments he made about China during his primary campaign, though he said he would never condone violence on the AAPI community.
“I’m not backing down, I’m not going to apologize for taking on China,” Ryan told reporters.
Jake Zuckerman contributed to this report.
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