At one time U.S. Sen. Rob Portman was on the Democrats’ target list. They thought the Ohio Republican was vulnerable and were going to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into Ted Strickland’s war chest to help him defeat Portman.
It didn’t take long for the national Democratic Party to change its mind, pulling its dollars out of Ohio and using the money elsewhere. They realized what we all know: Rob Portman is a solid U.S. senator deserving of our votes on Nov. 8.
Portman has been endorsed by all the key Republican groups as well as some traditional Democrat backers, including the Teamsters and Black Lives Matter.
That’s not by accident.
Portman is smart and engaged on the issues that matter to Ohioans: jobs growth; improving the water quality of Lake Erie and inland lakes; cleaning up dilapidated neighborhoods; and his pet project – helping parents and the state cope and fight a tremendous heroin problem.
Portman also has been no stranger to the four corners of Ohio. He’s made it a point to see firsthand the issues communities are wrestling with. In the Lima region, he recognized early the importance of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, and has fought to keep it open.
Strickland, 75, portrays himself as the champion of the middle class, and he’s sincere in wanting to make sure the average Ohioan is able to walk through the door of opportunity. However, he has no clear vision for making that happen. It’s what dogged him during the four years he served as Ohio’s governor, and is the reason he is trailing Portman in the polls by as much as 20 percent today.
Both candidates have changed their positions on hot-button issues during their careers.
Strickland opposed abortion when he first sought a congressional seat in 1980. He lost that race. Between that time and when he won his first seat in Congress in 2012, he changed to the pro-choice position he holds today, saying the decision occurred after getting married. In the House, he did vote for the partial-birth abortion ban.
Strickland’s position on gun issues also has changed. He once received an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association, but has since fallen in disfavor of the NRA after saying he would get behind an assault-weapons ban if he believed it was enforceable.
Each candidate once opposed gay marriage, but now support it. Portman was the first Republican senator to declare support for gay marriage, going public in 2013 after announcing that his son, Will, is gay.
Most recently, Portman pulled his support of Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. That shouldn’t concern Republican voters. He still believes in the core values of the party – protecting the life of the unborn, bringing down the deficit, reducing federal spending and ensuring the safety of our citizens.
Giving Rob Portman a second term as senator is an easy vote, especially during a time when Democrats have a good chance of winning the White House. Such a victory could give Hillary Clinton the possibility to nominate as many as four U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Republicans will need strong representation in the Senate and House to ensure non-partisan judges are selected.