Journal Opinion: On to the Fall Campaign

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The implications of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s win in the Democratic primary to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman deserve consideration.

The nomination itself is historic. This will be the first time that a major political party has nominated someone from Mahoning or Trumbull County to serve as its nominee for the U.S. Senate.

Ryan, who bested a field of political veterans in 2000 on his path to the Ohio Senate, and two years later defeated a sitting congressman to win his first term in Congress, has long been viewed as a candidate for statewide office. His short-lived presidential campaign was a rare but costly stumble in his trajectory.  

The Business Journal does not endorse political candidates – and we don’t do so here. But there’s little question that the concerns and priorities of the Mahoning Valley would get a better hearing on the Senate floor and stand a better chance of getting funded if Ryan is elected.

Ryan’s supporters need to be clear-eyed about his prospects against author and political commentator J.D. Vance, a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who twice carried Ohio by eight percentage points. Republicans dominate state offices and control both houses of the General Assembly.  

Following an expensive and often bitter GOP senatorial primary, we’re hopeful (but frankly not optimistic) for a general election campaign that focuses on the issues that are on the minds of Ohioans and not manufactured controversies to ignite passions but not enlighten voters.

Naturally, we’d like to hear how these candidates would support local economic development efforts, job training initiatives and programs to improve competitiveness such as expanding broadband, as well as enhancing our quality of life. 

The campaign also represents an opportunity for showcasing innovation. Ryan has long been an advocate for implementing social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools – a practice that has come under fire by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose goal is to turn his state solidly red..

In a September 2020 column that Ryan co-wrote for The Hill, the congressman noted that over a five-year period out-of-school suspensions in the Warren school district – which continues to offer SEL programming – dropped from more than 200 annually to 14.

Creating a pool of employable job candidates goes beyond making sure they have the skills that employers need. It also means teaching them to become well-adjusted adults and good citizens.

What we don’t need is political propaganda and insults aimed more at inflaming the passions of each party’s base rather than truthfully informing voters about the issues.

But what we’re bound to get is a bombardment of negative TV ads funded by PACs. As every political operative knows, they work.

Take shelter.