Joni Ernst campaigns with Ohio GOP U.S. Senate candidate JD Vance

U.S. Senate candidate JD Vance kicked off the campaign trail this week in northeast Ohio with Republican U.S. Senator from Iowa Joni Ernst and a handful of negative-ballot GOP candidates.

His message in the final weeks of the U.S. Senate race from Ohio echoed claims in his latest campaign ad – after 20 years in office, Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan has had plenty of opportunity but little accomplishment.

Portage County

In Aurora, about 50 people crammed into a window-lined room just off the bar at the Six Horses Tavern. The mostly white and older crowd munched on chicken crackers and bruschetta as they waited.

Ruth Wise used to teach in primary school and explained that she looked forward to visiting because she is “always open to learning more”. Right next to her, Anna and John Heinl both planned to vote for Vance but offered different perspectives on the candidate.

Anna was enthusiastic, pointing out Vance’s service in the Marines. “We had grandsons who went through the marine program,” she said. “So I’m really impressed with the character of a person going through this.”

Her husband John, meanwhile, brought a list of questions relating to foreign policy and the Electoral College. He said he was voting for Vance but far from “sold”. Recalling the first general election debate, he admitted Tim Ryan’s closing remarks offered a more hopeful view for the state.

“I’m voting for Vance anyway, I just think his campaign could have emphasized different points,” he said. “If Vance loses, I blame it on his campaign.”

JD Vance speaks October 13, 2022 in Aurora, Ohio as State Representative Gail Pavliga, R-Atwater and Secretary of State Frank LaRose look on. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)

State Rep. Gail Pavliga, R-Atwater, kicked things off and brought in Secretary of State Frank LaRose to introduce Vance. As he has throughout the campaign, Vance has focused on US immigration policy and drawn a line between the southern border and the opioid crisis. He linked Ryan to President Joe Biden and argued that their “unforced errors” were responsible for inflation.

After claiming that Ryan looked like he needed to have a kidney stone passed during the debate, Vance delivered his baseline speech to voters.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this guy, his 20 years in power have been a failure,” Vance told the crowd. “And on November 8, we can send him home to Youngstown to find a real job. We’re not going to promote him to the United States Senate.

Vance then handed them over to Senator Joni Ernst. Echoing Vance’s criticism of Ryan’s accomplishments, Ernst claimed that after eight years in office she “had no idea who (Tim Ryan) was”. Ryan campaigned in Iowa as the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate before the Iowa caucuses.

She then criticized Ryan’s use of proxy voting. He is among the practice’s most frequent users, and Vance has previously criticized Ryan for assigning a proxy so he could campaign.

“That’s why he doesn’t have much under his belt to call accomplishments,” Ernst said. “It’s because he’s too busy doing what he’s doing and not showing up in Washington, DC to represent all the good people here in Ohio.”

Stark County

An hour south of Guangzhou, GOP congressional candidate Madison Gesiotto Gilbert hosted the final campaign event of the day. She encouraged the 60-plus people to help knock on doors and described her bid as “one of the best targeted races in the country to help us get back home”.

She turned it over to Ohio listener Keith Faber, who focused on another ongoing criticism – Tim Ryan’s run to the middle. Politicians moderating after the primary is nothing new, but Ryan running ads emphasizing his deals with Donald Trump on trade policy is remarkable.

“We see someone who wants to be more like the Republicans,” Faber said. “Well, if you want to be like that, we had a Republican primary and JD won.”

Ohio Republican U.S. Senate candidate JD Vance speaks to supporters, during a Stark County Republican campaign event October 13, 2022, at the Madison Gesiotto Gilbert Campaign Office, Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)

Vance echoed that argument when addressing the crowd.

“This bill he sold to the people of Ohio, that he’s a MAGA Republican even though he votes with Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time the jig is up and people don’t buy more,” Vance said. “And that’s why he’s going to lose. That’s why we’re going to whip his tail.

Ernst returned to Ryan’s record in Congress.

“Tim Ryan is the status quo. If you want nothing done in the United States Senate, Tim Ryan is your man, okay?” she said. you want to see this country get back on track, then JD Vance is the man for you.”

Libby Adams is voting for the very first time this year and she said she was thrilled to support Vance. She participated in the American Legion’s Girls Nation as a junior senator from Ohio and said she volunteers for Dave Yost’s campaign. Vance’s stance on immigration resonated with her the most.

Mary and Frank Pershing have been knocking on Vance’s doors since he won the primary. They explained that they are generally not very active in political campaigns. Mary said she supported Vance because she believed he “wouldn’t leave any Ohioans behind.”

The holes

One issue that did not come up in Aurora or Canton was abortion. During the first general election debate, Vance said he had “always believed in reasonable exceptions” to allow abortions, despite describing himself throughout his campaign as “100% pro-life”.

Vance also rejected the 15-week nationwide abortion ban proposed by Sen. Lindsey Graham. He argued that states should set their own policy while allowing a “minimum national standard” to suit them. He did not give details on where he would draw the line, or what form those restrictions should take. Would they guarantee residents of all 50 states a minimum level of access to abortion or limit state permissiveness?

During a primary debate, Vance and his opponent Josh Mandel took the time to criticize the lack of questions about abortion. Afterwards, he argued that the moderator should have asked about this specifically, as it would force a more nuanced conversation.

“Even in questions where there is general unity within the party, we should ask people how they feel,” he argued, “because one, you might get an answer, you don’t expect not, and secondly, you could see how that how the candidates, or the voters could see how the candidates actually react to these different points of emphasis.

Vance did not respond to any of his three campaign steps.

This story was originally published by The Ohio Capital Journal, part of States Newsroom, a grant-supported network of news outlets and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. . Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact editor David DeWitt with any questions: [email protected]. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter. Follow the OCJ journalist Nick Evans on Twitter.

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