Brown endorses Ryan in battle over Senate vacancy

By Ethan Nichols, Staff writer

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) endorsed Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Youngstown, over attorney Morgan Harper last week. Democrats hope to flip Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) vacant Senate seat in 2022. Meanwhile, Republicans hope to retain Portman’s seat and are fielding a wide array of candidates in the primary.

In a statement, Brown argued that Ryan would work to give Ohioans a “fair shot” and said that Ryan was an ally of working people in the state. Brown expressed his hope that the Democrats could flip Portman’s seat.

“I know Tim, and I know whose side he’s on. He’s not in this for himself or for corporate special interests — he has dedicated his life to fighting for Ohioans and their jobs and their wages and their communities,” Brown said. 

Brown is a major player in Ohio politics, being the only elected Democrat statewide who successfully won reelection in 2018. The endorsement is perhaps the biggest in the race so far and is likely to help solidify support for Ryan.

Ryan launched his campaign in April 2021 and has quickly become the frontrunner in the race, raising around $2.25 million.

Hailing from Northeastern Ohio, the 10-term congressman has also amassed a large number of endorsements beyond Brown, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland. 

The majority of Democrats in the state legislature have endorsed Ryan, as has the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, the largest federation of unions in the United States.

Harper, a former attorney and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau senior advisor, announced her campaign in August 2021. 

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Ryan has secured Brown’s endorsement for Senate, while Harper has been endorsed by progressive groups. Republicans hope to hold the seat.

She has quickly become a major player in the race, raising over $535,000 in the two months since announcing her campaign.

Harper has received endorsements from Brand New Congress and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

“We must nominate a candidate for Senate who can excite the Black, Brown, women and young voters who we need to turn out in high numbers to beat the right-wing Republicans who will turn back the clock on women’s health and rights, economic mobility and civil rights,” she said.

A wide field of candidates are running to succeed retiring Sen. Portman.

These six candidates include former state treasurer Josh Mandel; Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance; former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken; car salesman Bernie Moreno; Ohio Senator Matt Dolan and investment banker Mike Gibbons. 

The candidates have managed to bring millions of dollars into the race. 

Vance received a $10 million donation to his super PAC from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Vance also raised $1.75 million in the last quarter. 

Mandel raised close to $1.1 million, including through a joint fundraising agreement with the Josh PAC coalition and the Shelby County Republican Party. 

Timken loaned her campaign $1 million and raised roughly $700,000. 

Moreno also raised around $700,000 and loaned his campaign $3 million. 

Gibbons received around $133,000 in donations and loaned his campaign $2.25 million, bringing his personal loans up to $8 million to his campaign. 

Dolan joined the race in September and is not yet required to disclose his campaign fundraising. 

Republican candidates continue to compete for the attention of former president Donald Trump in the hopes to secure an endorsement. 

Earlier this month, Trump expressed his support for the Ohio Republican candidates for Senate.

“I’m watching Ohio very, very closely. They’re all for Trump — it’s a wonderful thing,” he said.

The election will be held on May 3, 2022.