COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Nov. 8, Ohioans will head to the polls to cast their votes for the 2022 general election.
This year, Democrats and Republicans are battling to gain control of the U.S. Senate. Ohio is one of few states that remains a true toss-up on who could win a seat.
GOP Sen. Rob Portman is not seeking another term in the Senate, leaving his seat open for the first time in more than 10 years. The two people looking to replace Portman are Democratic candidate Rep. Tim Ryan and Republican candidate J.D. Vance.
The race is one of the most expensive and closely watched of the midterms, with Democrats viewing it as a possible pickup opportunity in November.
Who are they?
Ryan is a 10-term congressman who considers himself a moderate Democrat. He has spent nearly 10 years representing Ohio’s 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House.
Vance is a venture capitalist and author of his 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.” He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007, before working in venture capital in San Francisco.
Both candidates grew up in rural Ohio towns on opposite sides of the state that were known for producing steel manufacturing jobs.
With their similar backgrounds, Ryan and Vance have both centered a majority of their campaign toward the working class, pledging to bring manufacturing jobs back to the state,
Ryan has the advantage of experience over Vance with a history of nearly 20 years spent representing Ohio in Congress. He also has the support of massive fundraising efforts from his campaign and Democrat-led organizations.
Vance, however, has endorsements from former President Donald Trump and other prominent state and national GOP figures, making the Senate race extremely tight.
With hot-button issues such as abortion and immigration shaping this year’s elections, Vance and Ryan have clarified their stances in formal debates and appearances during their campaign trails.
Vance said that he would vote for the national abortion ban at 15 weeks introduced by Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, but also believes in certain exceptions — such that the 10-year-old Ohio girl could have gotten her abortion in the state, for example. He did not explicitly say he supports a rape exception, but rather suggested that her case probably fell under the exception for protecting the life of the mother.
He said the issue is too complex for him to name all the exceptions he might support on a debate stage.
Ryan said he would vote to codify the abortion rights previously protected under Roe v. Wade, which generally allowed abortions up under viability, and finds Graham's bill extreme.
Jan. 6 Insurrection
Ryan said Vance's position on police accountability didn't square with his failure to take seriously the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, where members of the Capitol Police were injured or died.
Vance said the Jan. 6 Committee investigating the siege “has shown from the very beginning that it's not interested in the truth, that it's interested in a political hit job" against Trump. He accused Ryan, Democrats and the media of being obsessed with the issue as average Ohioans worry about paying for groceries.
Vance wants universities to stop funding critical race theory and supports parents’ choice for picking their children’s access to education. Meanwhile, Ryan supports banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in all areas of society. He’s also working to ensure veterans in the LGBTQ community get the healthcare benefits they need.
When asked questions on immigration, police violence and opioid addiction, Vance returned frequently to the topic of the U.S. border with Mexico, which he said Democrats like Ryan have done too little to protect.
Ryan said he has disagreed with Biden on relaxing certain border regulations and started the Border Technology Caucus to explore how to use technology to keep the boundary secure. He said it would be “a big mistake” to send Vance to Washington given the record of his anti-addiction nonprofit.