Tim Ryan, not onstage, is early focus of Ohio Senate event

Jan 27, 2022, 8:12 PM | Updated: 10:55 pm

Morgan Harper, a progressive Democrat running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, speaks during a...

Morgan Harper, a progressive Democrat running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, speaks during a debate against Josh Mandel, a Republican former Ohio treasurer, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Democrat Tim Ryan wasn’t onstage when two of his competitors in Ohio’s U.S. Senate contest came together Thursday night for an unconventional debate, but his stature in the race featured prominently.

During the fiery hour-and-a-half event between Republican Josh Mandel and Democrat Morgan Harper, Mandel repeatedly attacked Ryan for failing to debate Harper so far and portrayed it as fundamental disrespect among state Democrats for their Black voter base.

“If Morgan was a white male, Tim Ryan would have already debated her,” said Mandel, 44, a white Marine veteran and former state treasurer. “But the reality is that she’s a Black female and the establishment of the Democratic Party, which Tim Ryan represents, they have trampled on Black people and left the Black community behind.”

Harper, 38, a former consumer protection lawyer and community organizer, declined to take the bait.

“So what we don’t need to have happen is Josh Mandel speaking in any way for the Black community,” she said. “And I think what the Black community of Ohio knows very clearly is that the radical Republican Party that’s trying to strip away our voting rights does not have our best interests in mind.”

Harper left mention of Ryan to her closing remarks and declined to criticize her party. It was a sign of how, despite their policy differences, Democrats are trying to avoid deep divides ahead of what is expected to be a grueling midterm election season. And that is particularly the case in Ohio, where a dozen or so candidates are jockeying to stand out in a race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a contest that could help determine party control of the U.S. Senate.

Harper had previously said she had been unsuccessful in getting Democratic U.S. Rep. Ryan to debate her, but Ryan on Thursday rejected any assertion that he had refused to do so. Ryan, a 10-term congressman from Ohio’s blue-collar Mahoning Valley, has been endorsed by Ohio’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown.

“It doesn’t matter whether Josh Mandel is standing in a cornfield calling for armed insurrection or showcasing his out-of-touch anti-worker agenda on the debate stage,” Ryan spokesperson Izzi Levy. “He’s wrong for Ohio and doesn’t belong anywhere near the U.S. Senate.”

The timing of Thursday’s event was unusual, coming months ahead of the state’s scheduled primaries. The candidates said they wanted their unconventional debate to be about ideas and informing voters.

The small crowd at North Columbus Baptist Church was subtly animated amid strict warnings against disruptions; some snickered, laughed and commented under their breaths. After the debate, which was streamed online, Mandel sparred with an audience member over his characterizations of members of Black Lives Matter as “thugs.”

For the most part, the candidates were respectful, sticking mostly to the debate rules and to policy issues. They disagreed diametrically on just about everything, including immigration, gun control, abortion and transgender rights.

Harper repeatedly accused Mandel of angling for the endorsement of former President Donald Trump with extreme policy positions and statements in favor of Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Mandel, meanwhile, called Harper out for opposing corporate welfare while supporting government funding for such things as affordable housing and renewable energy. He said her positions “sound like a loony Nancy Pelosi in California.”

“Morgan, I am having trouble keeping up with all your hypocrisy, because on one side of your mouth, you say that you’re against corporate welfare, but out of the other side of your mouth, you say you’re for renewable energy,” he said. “The reality is the only way renewable energy can stand up in our economy is through corporate welfare.”

Harper saved her one reference to Ryan for her ending remarks.

“I am scared as a woman, as a Black person, as a daughter of a mother who lives off of a monthly pension, of getting this guy anywhere near a seat of power in the United States Senate,” she said. “And if I thought that Tim Ryan could beat him, I would not be standing here tonight.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Republican presidential candidates, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, talking with forme...

Associated Press

The GOP debate field was asked about Trump. But most of the stage’s attacks focused on Nikki Haley

The four Republican presidential candidates debating Wednesday night mostly targeted each other instead of Donald Trump.

3 days ago

Law enforcement officers head into the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus after reports of an ...

Associated Press

Police say 3 dead, fourth wounded and shooter also dead in University of Nevada, Las Vegas attack

Police said a suspect was found dead Wednesday as officers responded to an active shooter and reports of multiple victims at UNLV.

3 days ago

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in Wilming...

Associated Press

Republicans threaten contempt proceedings if Hunter Biden refuses to appear for deposition

House Republicans are threatening to hold Hunter Biden in contempt if he does not show up this month for a closed-door deposition.

4 days ago

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., listens to a question during a news conference, March 30, 2022, in W...

Associated Press

Tuberville is ending blockade of most military nominees, clearing way for hundreds to be approved

Sen. Tommy Tuberville announced Tuesday that he's ending his blockade of hundreds of military promotions, following heavy criticism.

4 days ago

An employee works inside the Hanwha Qcells Solar plant on Oct. 16, 2023, in Dalton, Ga. On Tuesday,...

Associated Press

US job openings fall to lowest level since March 2021 as labor market cools

U.S. employers posted 8.7 million job openings in October, the fewest since March 2021, in a sign that hiring is cooling.

5 days ago

Megyn Kelly poses at The Hollywood Reporter's 25th annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast, Dec. 7,...

Associated Press

The fourth GOP debate will be a key moment for the young NewsNation cable network

By airing the fourth Republican presidential debate, NewsNation network will almost certainly reach the largest audience in its history.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

Tim Ryan, not onstage, is early focus of Ohio Senate event