COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's top elected Democrat endorsed U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan for Senate on Wednesday, an expected move aimed at further strengthening the party's efforts to flip a key seat next year.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, one of the politically divided state's most successful politicians, called Ryan a friend who “understands that all work has dignity.”
“I know Tim, and I know whose side he’s on,” the 68-year-old senior senator said. “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.”
He said his campaign is building “the strongest grassroots campaign Ohio has ever seen in order to flip this seat.”
“Sherrod has proven again and again that the way to win in Ohio is by showing up and talking to workers, and that’s exactly what we’re doing in every corner of this state," he said.
Until August, Ryan was running largely unopposed, steadily fundraising for months as a fractious race burgeoned among Portman's fellow Republicans. That's when consumer protection attorney and former congressional candidate Morgan Harper, a Black woman running to his left as a progressive, jumped into the race.
“Voters are the endorsements that matter," Harper said in a statement Wednesday. “Those are the endorsements that I am fighting for every day. This election is about the past vs. the future. A 20-year incumbent taking money from corporations is the past. A new voice with a fresh vision for Ohio’s economy is the future.”
The endorsement from Brown, one of the most liberal members of Congress, will no doubt lend Ryan some credibility among the party's progressive wing. An establishment Democrat was able to defeat a hard-fighting progressive aligned with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in an August congressional primary in Brown's hometown of Cleveland.
Harper argued that Ohio Democrats, internally at odds over the role of gender and race diversity on its tickets, “can't afford to run the same old playbook” or they will lose the Portman seat to “a far-right extremist like Josh Mandel or JD Vance.”
“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.
Republicans, meanwhile, characterized both Brown and Ryan as part of the dangerous far left.
“Sherrod Brown and Tim Ryan both have a history of deceiving hardworking Ohioans at home and pushing a radical agenda in Washington," Republican National Committee spokesperson Dan Lusheck said in a statement. "Ohioans are onto their game and as they feel the impact of Brown’s support for Joe Biden’s tax-and-spend agenda, his endorsement means even less.”