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Why Tim Ryan’s Senate campaign has become a major source of anxiety to Republicans: report

Why Tim Ryan’s Senate campaign has become a major source of anxiety to Republicans: report
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Why Tim Ryan’s Senate campaign has become a major source of anxiety to Republicans: report

When Republican “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance and Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan became the nominees in Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, GOP strategists were hoping Ryan would be easy to defeat. Former President Donald Trump carried Ohio by 8 percent in both 2016 and 2020, and Trump has endorsed Vance — a former Trump critic turned Trump devotee.

But Ryan has been an aggressive, very focused campaigner, and polls are showing a close race. According to polls released in mid-October, Vance is ahead of Ryan by only 2 percent (USA Today/Suffolk) or 3 percent (Republican pollster Cygnal).

Vance, according to polls, has a good chance of pulling off a narrow victory. But in an article published by Politico on October 21, journalist Burgess Everett stresses that Ryan’s campaign has become a major headache for Republican strategists and organizers — as they are having to devote considerable time, money and resources into defending that Senate seat, which is presently held by GOP Sen. Rob Portman (who isn’t seeking reelection).

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“Tim Ryan is arguably running the country’s most valuable Senate campaign,” Everett reports. “Even if he doesn’t win. The self-described Democratic ‘underdog’ is neck-and-neck with J.D. Vance in the race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). And Ryan’s doing it without the help of the national party while forcing Republican groups to spend more than $30 million countering him rather than on Democratic-held seats in places like Arizona and Colorado.”

Everett continues, “While Ryan absorbs Republican attacks, Democrats are mostly focused elsewhere — a boost to their broader effort to hold the 50-50 Senate against midterm headwinds that leaves the 10-term congressman essentially on his own. Democrats love Ryan for keeping it close, yet as Vance keeps a slim lead in public polls, Ryan isn’t favored by — pretty much anyone except himself.”

If Ryan does manage to pull off a victory, both of Ohio’s U.S. Senate seats will be in Democratic hands. Ohio’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown, was reelected in 2018 and isn’t up for reelection until 2024.

Justin Barasky, Brown’s campaign manager in 2018, told Politico, “Tim Ryan has forced national Republicans to spend roughly $40 million in a general election in a state that they had no plans to spend in. He is going to be responsible, one way or the other, for helping Democrats hold the Senate. Win or lose.”

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