Tim Ryan can help save the majority of Democratic senators. Even if he loses.

The 49-year-old with the outspoken, choppy voice insists he will surprise everyone and join Sen. Sherrod Brown as the only Democrats to win Senate races here since former Sen. John Glenn won his last race in 1992. Democrats believe he has an outside chance to win, according to interviews with congressional lawmakers and party strategists.

If he can pull it off, Ryan says he will operate outside his party leadership if necessary — contrary to the Pelosi-loving image Republicans are pushing, citing his recently reliable Democratic voting record.

“I don’t know if I’m going to vote for Chuck Schumer” as leader, Ryan said in an interview on his campaign bus. “I will go to the Senate and I will not be beholden to anyone, will I? And I’ll probably be a royal pain in the ass when I get there. And maybe that’s a reason why we don’t get help.

If he were to lose but help keep the Senate under Democratic control by diverting national resources from the GOP, he admitted he would be “happy the inmates aren’t taking over the asylum.” But you know, I won’t be happy. It’s just not in my DNA.

Republicans now have confidence in Vance, but the Mitch McConnellThe Senate Leadership Fund-aligned super PAC is spending about $3 million a week to boost Ryan’s foe and has kept its ad bookings. It’s a sign that the race remains close enough not to take risks and a far cry from where things were in Ohio six years ago.

The last time that seat was up for grabs, Portman had already dispatched Gov. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio). It hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that Ryan is an overachievers, despite a mid-round cycle working against him.

“Tim Ryan forced National Republicans to spend about $40 million in a general election in a state they had no intention of spending in,” said Justin Barasky, who managed Brown’s winning bid. up for reelection in 2018. “He’s going to be responsible, one way or another, for helping the Democrats hold the Senate. Win or lose.”

Ryan does this by peppering his blunt rhetoric with soft swear words and not emphasizing that he is a Democrat. In a state that Donald Trump won by 8 points, Ryan must claim a sizable slice of Republican voters to win. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that his campaign bus is bright red.

The progressive Buckeye State senior senator agreed that Ryan is lifting Senate Democrats across the country, but pointedly added that “my interest is that he wins and has done this service. Not that he loses and that he rendered this service.

“I would make a prediction. Maybe I shouldn’t,” Brown said in an interview. “But in a year, JD Vance will be living in California again.”

The close race becomes more intense as Election Day approaches. Vance calls Ryan a “total bastard” and a “fake moderate”. Ryan calls Vance “as lazy as can be” and barely tolerates him: “I don’t hate him. I don’t respect him.

Vance is a professor on the stump but shows a tough side as he rails against the media, and he too adds a swear word here and there. He does press gags, but his campaign hasn’t made him available for an interview. Ryan clearly enjoys interacting with reporters more; a scheduled 10-minute interview ends at 25 as he pushes for more middle-class tax cuts and pledges to steer his party in a new direction.

Ryan’s greatest strength may prove his exploitation of internal GOP divisions after Vance’s main victory. These splits have dried up fundraising and dampened enthusiasm for Vance among Republican voters who have backed other candidates as Ryan railed against China on TV.

“He spent his money as a conservative Democrat while the Republicans fought,” the rep said. Mike Carey (R-Ohio) explained how Ryan kept the race close. “His ads, I mean, are very populist. I wouldn’t even say middle of the road. They are on the right. »

Democrats disagree that Ryan is running as a quasi-Republican. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said his campaign was “close to Sherrod Brown’s winning message.”

The GOP’s bet that Ryan will shed cross-sectional support as Vance and the GOP super PAC focus narrowly on his recent record voting for the Democrats’ agenda. representing Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Vance spent the summer running as a “Republican Trump,” but the ground has changed this fall and Vance is “starting to drift away.”

Democrats wonder if the Schumer-aligned Senate Majority PAC could change that with a publicity barrage. Right now, Ryan’s lonely battle is a point of pride as he posts big fundraising numbers, advises high-profile surrogates like former President Barack Obama to stay away, and rejoices to be the “face of this campaign”.

“We don’t necessarily need them to come here,” Ryan said. “We raise enough money to do it ourselves.”

Still, some Ohio Democrats feel snubbed. Cindy Dempsey, who chairs the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus, said she was “frustrated that there isn’t more help” and called the GOP deluge “painful.”

The Senate Majority PAC hasn’t ruled out helping Ryan, and its leader JB Poersch hailed his “remarkably strong campaign.” The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee also coordinated an ad buy with him.

Largely solo in his message, Ryan argues that the GOP numbers on his “votes with Pelosi” are misleading because the president rarely introduces legislation in the House without all Democrats in favor. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t use ‘the offensive line,’ Ryan acknowledges, “if I were him.”

Notably, Ryan refused to pull a Manchin this Congress by threatening to shut down Democratic priorities in order to gain leverage for his own. Ohioan said it wouldn’t have made much difference, instead it fought to have its priorities added to must-have bills.

The former presidential candidate highlights past votes against Obama’s fast-tracking of new trade deals and backs some of Trump’s trade agendas as examples of a push to counter his own party. He’s with most Democrats in other ways: He supports removing the Senate legislative filibuster and expanding abortion access after Roe vs. Wade was struck down.

“Tim Ryan has, in many ways, tried to portray himself as a Republican, which is appealing to the more conservative independent voters in Ohio,” Portman said in an interview. “It won’t be a success in the end, I don’t think. Because it’s not consistent with his track record.

Perhaps the biggest clapback Ryan offers to Vance’s accusations of rote behavior is his 2016 leadership contest against Pelosi. He compared this long-odds challenge to the one he is attempting now.

“My whole thing there was, like, it’s our fault. The creation of Trump is our fault,” Ryan said of the Democrats’ frayed dominance over working-class voters. “We lost our connection, and that’s how Trump was able to like to rush in. And I think this is a chance for us, right here in the heart of the country, to get it back.”


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