On the side
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, had harsh words for fellow Republicans with regards to the latest failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Johnson said: “The millions of Americans who voted for members of Congress that repeatedly promised to repeal and replace Obamacare are frustrated and fed up. I am, too. I have voted repeatedly to repeal and replace, and often when I vote ‘yes,’ a small band of Republican members lose the courage of their convictions and vote ‘no.’ We cannot be the party of ‘no.’ We must be the party of solutions, and there is no bigger problem right now than the ongoing collapse of Obamacare.”
If U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan and Bill Johnson were looking to scare away potential competition by raising a lot of money, they accomplished their goals.
Between April and June, Ryan of Howland, D-13th, raised $319,125 while Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, brought in $337,262, according to their latest Federal Election Commission campaign-finance reports.
To date, no candidate has come forward to challenge either incumbent and based on their past election successes, it’s highly unlikely that a known opponent will enter either race.
But that doesn’t stop the incumbents from dialing up the rhetoric when it comes to asking supporters for money.
In the days leading up to the June 30 deadline to make contributions during the second quarter, both campaigns sent emails expressing their need for money in order to get re-elected.
Johnson wrote in a June 28 email: “As one of the most pro-Trump Republicans anywhere in Congress, I am under daily attack from D.C. liberals and the media who still have not accepted last year’s election results.”
He added: “If our campaign’s FEC report shows any signs of weakness, they will pounce, ramping up their efforts to defeat me and pour money into the campaign of a Democrat challenger. So please, make your urgent donation today – when our FEC report is made public, we need it to be a real show of grass-roots strength, sending D.C. liberals a message that pro-Trump conservatives are ready for the fight ahead!”
The reality for Johnson is he sits in a safe Republican seat. The 18-county district, which includes all of Columbiana and southern Mahoning, has become more Republican over the years. Gerrymandering and Appalachia turning more Republican means Johnson, who would seek his fifth two-year term in Congress next year, won’t get a legitimate Democrat to challenge him in 2018. And if Johnson does, his conservative record and healthy campaign war chest of more than $1 million so far – and growing with each quarter – will be nearly impossible to overcome.
To get him over the $1 million mark for cash, Johnson loaned $30,000 to his campaign on June 30, the last day of the filing quarter.
Ryan is raising money and his national profile, first during his failed November 2016 bid to beat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and more recently with his criticism of the Democratic leadership team after party candidates failed to win any of the special House elections this year.
In a move that still doesn’t make much sense, the National Republican Congressional Committee listed Ryan in February among 36 Democratic incumbents it’s targeting in 2018.
In a June 26 email to supporters, Ryan’s campaign wrote: “A new polling analysis shows that Tim could lose his seat next year. The pollster Morning Consult produced a list of districts held by Democrats that are in danger of flipping red in 2018. Tim Ryan’s district is on the list.”
It continued: “With so much at stake, we can’t allow national Republicans and their big donors to replace a progressive champion with a right-wing rubber stamp. Let’s be ready for their attacks – can you chip in to help keep Tim in Congress?”
The email also mentioned the NRCC target list.
“That means they’re already committed to spending millions of dollars on TV attack ads dragging Tim’s name through the mud.”
A day later, another email from Justin Brennan, Ryan’s campaign political director, stated: “Experts have warned that Tim’s seat is vulnerable” and “national Republicans have Tim on their top target list for 2018. We know the negative ads are coming.”
While Republican Donald Trump did well in Ryan’s district – losing by 6 percentage points – the eight-term incumbent Democratic congressman was re-elected by 36 percentage points last year.
The 13th District is a safe Democratic district for Ryan. It should be mentioned that Republicans drew Ryan’s district, which includes most of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, to heavily favor Democrats, one of only four House seats in the state.
That was done to have the other 12 congressional districts in Ohio be safe Republican districts.
If a Republican had even the slightest prayer of being competitive against Ryan, that candidate would have already announced.
Since that hasn’t happened, expect Republicans to do what they’ve done since Ryan first ran for re-election in 2004: field a candidate who will be badly defeated by the Democrat incumbent.