Battleground Ohio heating up

Sabrina Eaton -

WASHINGTON, D. C. — If Tuesday’s results in bellwether races around the country are any indication, voters that can swing tight elections towards either party are not swinging with the Democratic party these days.

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said the party’s wins of Virginia’s governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general’s jobs are a sign that “things are only going to get worse for Joe Biden and the Democrats.” However, Democrats in Ohio said they don’t think Tuesday’s dismal results spell doom for their 2022 bid to capture the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated when incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman retires.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said he was disappointed in Virginia’s results because he hoped for a Democratic win, but said that race won’t affect Ohio’s upcoming Senate race. He said fact that five out of the six Republicans vying for Portman’s seat said they oppose the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes “Buy American” provisions that Brown worked on with Portman, “will have a much bigger impact than an election in another state.” Tuesday’s results show Democrats need to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger spending plan backed by Democrats that will establish popular programs, said Brown.

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Matt Keyes said Democrats “had a great night in Ohio” on Tuesday, citing victories of Democratic mayoral candidates in places like Lima, Toledo, Youngstown, Dayton, Cincinnati and Cleveland, as well as city council and school board races across the state.

“Heading into 2022, Ohio Democrats have the momentum we need to flip Ohio blue, hold Republicans accountable for betraying Ohioans at every turn and make our state better for all Ohioans, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” added a statement from Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters.

Ohio State University emeritus political science professor Herb Asher said Tuesday’s election showed “warning signs for Democrats,” and said they need to learn “the right lessons” from the shellacking in other states. While progressives in the party might want to talk about issues like climate change and police reform, the results showed the electorate cares about more local issues like education and the economy, said Asher.

Asher said Democrats have always been the underdog in next year’s Senate race because Ohio tends to elect Republicans to statewide offices, and because the party whose president is in the White House tends to lose congressional seats in non-presidential election years. The state of the economy in 2022, the nation’s mood, Biden’s popularity and how the nation is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic around the time of the next election will all be factors in how Democrats do next year. Polls monitored by the FiveThirtyEight website show Biden’s approval rating is currently 42.9 percent.

“Should the Republicans go off the deep end and nominate a candidate who is really extreme, that will give Democrats an opportunity to present a plausible candidate,” said Asher, who observed that Democrats who’ve won the Senate in Ohio such as Brown and Howard Metzenbaum “were so successful because they talked directly to the working class and they understood what motivates voters.”

A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Niles-area Democrat who is seeking Portman’s Senate seat, said that’s exactly what he’s doing .

“For the next 53 weeks, Tim will be campaigning in every corner of Ohio, speaking directly with voters about how he’s fighting for them—whether it’s taking on China and positioning Ohio to lead the industries of the future, or putting more money in the pockets of working people by raising wages, cutting taxes for the middle class, and bringing down the costs of essentials like childcare and prescription drugs,” said a statement from Ryan campaign spokesperson Izzi Levy.

A statement from another Democratic candidate for Portman’s seat, Columbus attorney Morgan Harper, said Tuesday’s results “show us that Democrats can’t keep relying on the same old playbook.

“Voters are rejecting career politicians,” Harper continued. “New, exciting candidates with fresh ideas who energize and turn out voters are our only pathway to victory. Most importantly, Democrats need to have a forward-looking agenda and start delivering results that tangentially improve people’s lives. We aren’t going to win if we don’t.”

Sabrina Eaton

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