Ryan, Vance size up each other

J.D. Vance and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan clearly are not impressed by each other.

During interviews I recently conducted with Vance, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Ohio, and Ryan, his Democratic opponent, they both sort of dismissed each other.

“I see him as a fraud,” Vance said of Ryan. “I see him as a guy who’s been in Congress for 20 years, who’s been on nearly every side of every issue. He’s been pro-life a few years ago, and now has come out in favor of unlimited late-term abortion even up to 40 weeks. He was very pro-defund the police when he was running for president two years ago. Now he’s very anti-defund the police.”

Vance added: “I don’t have any problem with people changing their mind. The issue I have is when there’s no real theory behind it, no explanation behind it. The problem with Tim Ryan with going from pro-defund the police a few years ago to anti-defund the police is not that he changed his mind, but it’s that he pretends he hasn’t changed his mind.”

Ryan has provided explanations going back more than seven years ago, when he announced his pro-choice decision, as to why he changed, saying he did so after having conversations with women about the issue and he believes government shouldn’t play a role in those decisions.

Ryan received backlash, particularly from law enforcement officials, about two years ago for a letter he signed stating: “Police brutality and violence is now a leading cause of death among young men, particularly black men who are nearly three times more likely to be killed by police than their white peers.”

Ryan never came out and said he was in favor of defunding the police.

Vance also said the “broader problem” is Ryan has represented Youngstown and Warren for nearly two decades “and those areas have not done very well. If you judge people by the results, if I spent the past 20 years representing Youngstown in Congress I would say Youngstown needs a new congressman. The question for Ohio is: Do we want to give this guy who’s been a total failure a promotion statewide? I think the answer for most Ohioans is going to be no.”

Ryan told me Vance’s win in the seven-person Republican primary with 32.2 percent of the vote was unimpressive.

Former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Vance, “dragged him across the finish line,” Ryan said. “You’ve got a carpetbagger from California with a Silicon Valley billionaire (Peter Thiel) who wrote him a $15 million check,” and “He didn’t get one-third of the vote in the primary. I’m not impressed. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m not impressed.”

Ryan leaned in on Vance leaving Ohio to make millions as a venture capitalist and author while living in California and returning to this state six years ago.

“There is a level of common sense in Ohio that Ohio isn’t going to go for a carpetbagger from California,” Ryan said. “I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Vance said Ryan’s comments are “ridiculous.” Vance said, like many younger Ohioans, he didn’t see enough opportunities in the state, so he left. But he’s been back to work to create jobs and opportunities for people to stay and come to Ohio.

Ryan said it comes down to who “the average person in Ohio thinks is going to best represent them: the guy that’s getting his chain pulled by Peter Thiel or who’s got to completely cash in with Trump to limp over the finish line? Or the guy who’s been here 20 years and has a pretty clear record of getting money from all over the place to fund the campaign? I think that’s a pretty clear distinction.”

Both agree Vance is currently the favorite.

Vance said Democrats have won in Ohio — though U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is the only one to do it statewide in the past eight years with a “D” after his name on the ballot — “so we have to do the work.”

Ryan said: “Ohio is in a lot of ways an underdog state” and its voters won’t back Vance.

We will see in November.

Skolnick covers politics for The Vindicator and the Tribune Chronicle.



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