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Ohio Election 2022: Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance run for U.S. Senate

Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance, U.S. Senate candidates
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Candidates for U.S. Senate: Tim Ryan, Democratic candidate and U.S. House member, and J.D. Vance, Republican candidate and venture capitalist.

The race between Republican J.D. Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan to become Ohio’s next U.S. Senator has been a long journey, raking in millions of dollars and leading to heated debates among the candidates.

While 2022 has been marked by several topics that stir controversy among voters, such as abortion and immigration, the one issue that consistently polls higher than anything else is the economy.

Vance and Ryan have both used the economy as a centerpiece in their race. However, they diverge on the reasons for inflation and the ways to fix the problem.

Addressing inflation

Vance, a venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” has pointed the blame squarely at Democratic leadership in Congress and President Joe Biden. He said inflation has been caused by an influx of federal aid, such as the American Rescue Plan Act’s trillion-dollar relief package, and an overregulation on the oil and gas industry.

“Simultaneously they’ve borrowed and spent trillions of dollars that we just don’t have and that’s thrown fuel on the fire of the inflation problem and at the same time they’ve gone to war against America’s energy sector,” said Vance.

Ryan, a member of Congress who has represented the Mahoning Valley area for 20 years, said it’s time for the country to come up with solutions to the problem such as a tax cut — often a Republican proposal — instead of assigning blame.

“I think everybody’s to blame – I mean, we’re coming out of a pandemic. It’s a problem. The question is, are we going to sit around another 10 years and point fingers? What I’ve been proposing is a significant tax cut for working people and small businesses,” said Ryan.

Vance said he would be for a tax cut but has added that Ryan has mostly opposed tax cuts during his time in Congress.

Voting in the U.S. Senate

A key point Vance has tried to drive home is that Ryan has consistently aligned himself with Democrats on these decisions that can impact the U.S. economy.

“Tim Ryan has voted with these policies 100% of the time. Every single time he gets an opportunity to stand up for Ohioans, he chooses to bend the knee to his own party,” said Vance.

Ryan has noted he ran for speaker against Nancy Pelosi in 2016 as an example of standing up to his party. He’s even said he doesn’t believe Biden should run for re-election.

Ryan said he has voted for plans that lead to economic growth, such as bills to subsidize electric vehicle manufacturing and the Intel semiconductor plant.

“Look at the CHIPS Act and the Intel project that's going to create $100 billion investment into Ohio, that's going to ripple throughout this entire economy,” said Ryan.

Tough on China

Both have said the U.S. needs to be tough on trade deals with China.

For Vance, that means tariffs on Chinese imports and relaxing regulations on the energy industry.

“Why has China taken a huge amount of America's jobs?” Vance asked. “Well, one of the reasons is because energy is too expensive. You cannot do modern industrial manufacturing without high quality energy.”

Ryan said he supported most of the tariffs that were proposed by former President Donald Trump and that he has a long history of policy to back up his position on China.

“One of my first bills I had was to penalize China for manipulating their currency. I work to get tariffs on China's steel coming in. That led to $1,000,000,000 investment in the Youngstown steel mill,” said Ryan.

Supporting Ohio’s economy in the U.S. Senate

In their closing arguments in the first debate, both Ryan and Vance focused on why the economy is a key policy discussion in this race.

Ryan talked about the importance of supporting growth through federal spending.

“We have an opportunity to be the manufacturing powerhouse of the world. The arsenal of energy,” Ryan said.

Vance, while emphasizing the impact inflation has had on families, said “I think there's something very basic here. I think that people deserve certain things. Ohioans deserve certain things from their federal leadership. They deserve to go to the grocery store and be able to afford food without breaking the bank.”

Social Security and Medicare

On the issue of social security — in a survey by AARP — Vance said the best way to protect the program is to grow the economy and create more workers that pay into the system.

Ryan said he supported increasing benefits, expanding eligibility, and keeping up with the cost of living.

Both candidates said they would fight against proposed funding cuts to Medicare.

While the economy has been the top issue discussed among voters, other wedge issues have stirred the pot in this heated race.

As Vance and Ryan met with supporters around Ohio, it became clear which issues were top of mind for the more conservative and liberal voters on the campaign trail.

Abortion laws after Roe

As Ryan sat in an intimate town hall in Dayton, a group of Black voters expressed how important it is for the Democratic congressman to be “aggressive” on the issue of abortion.

Ryan, who was against abortion until about seven years ago, said he will fight to codify abortion rights previously granted through Roe v. Wade, which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned in June.

He noted that Republicans in the U.S. Senate are trying to pass a 15-week, national abortion ban.

“Now, these are extreme positions. And I think people have to know who they're voting for on circumstances like this, where you have a guy who's willing to codify Roe v. Wade which has been the law of the land for 50 years,” said Ryan. “This has injected nothing but chaos in the society.”

During their debate in Cleveland, Vance said he recalled seeing young, poor women in his hometown having abortions because they didn’t think they had options.

He supports Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham’s 15-week abortion ban proposal.

“My view on this is, generally speaking, Ohio is going to want to have different abortion laws than California, than Texas, and I think Ohio should have that right. But some minimum national standard is totally fine with me,” said Vance.

Though Ryan said he supports codifying Roe, which generally allowed abortions until a fetus is viable — usually around 24 to 28 weeks — Vance said it is Ryan who has the extreme views.

“He voted for a piece of legislation that would have overturned Roe and required abortion on demand at 40 weeks for fully-elective reasons,” said Vance.

Ryan said Ohio's strict abortion ban, which is currently on hold, has led to pregnant women not being able to get the care they need, and brought out stories like the 10-year-old Ohio rape victim who had to go to Indiana for an abortion.

Ryan, noting that more men are now energized by the issue, said “Dads with young daughters, are like ‘No way. No way is J.D. Vance or Ted Cruz or these crackpots going to be in the doctor's office with my daughter if she has a problem.’”

Securing the border

Just as Ryan has focused on abortion with the liberal base, Vance has emphasized the need for stronger immigration policies as he meets with conservative supporters around Ohio.

A crowd cheered for Vance at a rally in Avon as he spoke about how the U.S. is struggling with an “open border.”

“Joe Biden and Tim Ryan have thrown open the American southern border. The people on the ground know it. The evidence about seizures actually just tells us more people are coming across in the first place,” said Vance.

U.S. authorities made a record 2 million immigration arrests on the southern border in the last year.

Ryan seems to agree with Vance on the lack of security at the border.

“It's not secure. We have a lot of work to do. I'm not here to just get in a fight or just tow the Democratic Party line. I'm here to speak the truth. We do have more work to do,” said Ryan, who listed other policies he’s supported in Congress, such as increased funding for border patrol.

But Vance pressed that the crisis at the southern border is leading to increased violence and drug use in America.

“He talks about wanting to be bipartisan and get things done. Well, Tim, you've been in Congress for 20 years, and the border problem has got worse and worse and worse,” Vance said.

Reforming immigration policies

Ryan said that the U.S. also needed to reform its immigration process for the people who are already in America.

“If they're here, pay a fine, pay back taxes, pass a background check and come into the country,” Ryan said.

Vance also said he’s for a system that allows immigrants to the U.S. if they provide something “meaningful” to the country, which he described as having certain skills, along with knowing English.

He said he supports Republican Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s RAISE Act.

The campaign rhetoric from Ryan and Vance recently has skewed more towards messages that could connect with moderates at a time when many independent voters have been polling undecided. However, supporters from each candidates’ base have stressed the need to still get out the vote among their groups.

The race has garnered national attention as the result of Ohio’s contest could determine the balance of the U.S. Senate, which is currently split 50-50.

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