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LORAIN, Ohio – Rep. Tim Ryan Monday accused Republicans of treating Ohio’s Senate race as a “game” as he appeared at a rally with union members on the eve of the state’s primary elections.
“I think J.P. Mandel would be a hell of a candidate to run against,” Ryan, D-Ohio, told Fox News in a Monday interview in Lorain.
He was referring to former President Donald Trump’s Sunday night rally in which Trump botched the name of J.D. Vance, the Ohio GOP Senate candidate he endorsed, mixing him up with former Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, another GOP primary hopeful.
“J.P., right? J.D. Mandel,” Trump said of his endorsement.
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“Clearly this is a big game to everybody over there… Everybody was going after the endorsement hard. Then the guy gets it, Trump doesn’t even remember his name,” Ryan added. “I mean that just shows you that it’s a game — it’s not a game for me, it’s not a game for the families here.”
Ryan was joined by several Ohio Democratic headliners at the chilly rally near the banks of Lake Erie Monday. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, attended, and Lorain Mayor Jack Bradley hosted the event.
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A few hundred attendees, many wearing union garb or city worker gear, gathered underneath a pavilion and held signs pushing to “Build the Marine Highway,” a project that would reportedly create up to 4,000 jobs to build a submarine dry dock.
A drum line framed with Ohio and American flags played before the event, and stood in the background during it as Ryan and others spoke. After his speech, Ryan mingled with union workers in hard hats.
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During his address, Ryan told a story about his grandfather, who was a union worker.
“He didn’t have to work 60-70 hours… a week, 12-15 hours a day,” Ryan said in the stump speech.
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“He had a good job,” Ryan continued, which allowed his grandfather to attend ballgames and volunteer in the community. The congressman said his favorite photo of his grandfather is one of him, as a volunteer, building the school Ryan later attended as a child.
“It’s who I am and where I come from. I come from a community that’s a lot of job loss for the last 30 or 40 years,” Ryan added of his focus on union jobs. “It’s time we have policies in the United States that take on China, rebuild the middle class and reinvest into these communities.”
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Ryan is widely considered to be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the seat to replace retiring Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. But the expensive and contentious GOP race is wide open.
No matter who wins the GOP race, Ryan is likely to face an uphill battle to the Senate.
The first midterm of a president’s term is usually bad for his party, and President Biden’s low approval ratings are unlikely to help Ryan. The congressman, however, says he believes he’ll be moving to the upper chamber next year thanks to his rapport with Ohio voters.
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“We’re gonna win this race. The people of Ohio know me. I’m not running as a Democrat or a Republican, I’m running as an American,” Ryan said.