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Ohio's U.S. Senate race could determine the next two years of federal policymaking

J.D. Vance and Tim Ryan, Ohio U.S. Senate candidates
Andy Chow/Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
J.D. Vance and Tim Ryan, Ohio U.S. Senate candidates

With political power in the U.S. Senate hanging in the balance, the race between Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance can determine the future of congressional policymaking and the 2024 presidential election, according to supporters of the candidates.

Democrats are in the majority in the U.S. Senate, with 48 Democratic senators, two independent senators who caucus with the Dems, and Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote.

But close Senate races around the country, including the contest between Vance and Ryan in Ohio, could shift the power dynamic in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said it is vital for Ryan to win in Ohio to help their party stay in power. He said, if Republicans take back the majority, Congress could try to pass measures that privatize Social Security and Medicare, or repeal some of the bills that have passed over the last two years.

“That's who they are as a party. And that's what you'll see if Republicans win the House and Senate,” said Brown. “I mean, it's really clear on issue after issue whose side these candidates are on. And I think that the winner in Ohio will in fact dictate — because it's a very closely divided Senate — on which direction we go again.”

While campaigning for Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said the balance of the Senate could also play a role in the 2024 presidential election.

“The 2022 cycle stops the madness,” said Graham when asked how this year’s election could affect the presidential race.

Graham, who said he would become budget committee chair if the Republicans get a majority in the Senate, added that the GOP would roll out a policy agenda that focuses on border security and energy production.

“So, if you have both bodies, not only do you change the policy structure of the Biden agenda, you also begin to shape the debate for 2024,” said Graham.

Graham said Vance would help the Republicans create policy that help bring down the rate of inflation, especially with a focus on lifting regulations on U.S.-produced energy.

Brown said, beyond who wins the majority, that Ryan — who has been a congressman for 20 years — is a leader who would represent the people of Ohio and their interests.

“It's not left, right, center or wherever politicians fall on the spectrum, it's whose side are you on? And I think Congressman Ryan's been on the side of middle-class Ohioans and working Ohioans for his whole career,” said Brown.

For the 2022 U.S. Senate races around the country, there are 14 seats currently held by a Democrat and 21 seats currently held by a Republican up for election. Of the Republican seats, six – including Ohio – are open races where the incumbent is not running for re-election. The Democrats have one U.S. Senate race where the incumbent is not seeking another term.

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