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Tim Ryan turned his run into a surprise Senate battleground.  Now comes the hardest part.

The lead is the product of a lopsided campaign so far: Ryan has spent more than $8 million on ads, including $6.5 million on TV since May. But until this week, Vance’s campaign had been off the airwaves this whole time. Ryan also stayed well ahead of Vance in the cash dash, thanks in part to an aggressive small-dollar donation campaign.

The outcome of the Ohio race has major stakes for the 2022 midterms. The Senate is finely balanced at 50-50, and Democrats have enjoyed a summer of strong polls in the states’ top races. swing despite the difficult political environment. Adding another fiercely competitive GOP-held seat to the fall battlefield shopping list could swing control of the chamber next year.

Ironically, the spate of negative stories surrounding Vance’s campaign in recent weeks – that he’s struggling to raise funds and his own party wondering if Ryan is hustling him on the air – may have had a positive effect. net about Vance’s campaign. Fundraising has since resumed, and National Republicans have stepped in to start buying ads in the race.

On Thursday, Vance joined Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ, where he raised about $300,000 by hosting a golf fundraiser, according to a person with knowledge of the event.

Donors who had been on the sidelines since the primary suddenly started writing checks, the Vance ally said. And after a bitter primary fight, Vance’s former adversaries are now stepping up to lend their support. Jane Timken just hosted a fundraiser for Vance, and the campaign is now planning additional events with Josh Mandel and Mike Gibbons.

This week, One Nation, the nonprofit part of the outside spending machine affiliated with the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), announced a $3.8 million ad buy in the Ohio Senate race. This follows a nearly $1 million television buy that was launched this week as part of a campaign collaboration between Vance and the Republican National Senate Committee.

In an interview with POLITICO, Ryan said National Republicans are “freaking out” over Vance’s prospects and pushed back against the idea that his internal poll represents the pinnacle of his campaign.

“We have a lot of room to grow,” Ryan said. “In many ways, this race has firmed up.” He added, “It’s just going to be a question of how many more Republican and independent voters we can attract over the next three months.”

On that front, Ryan is still making progress. Retired Senator Rob PortmanThe former chief of staff to John Bridgeland, a former director of George W. Bush’s Domestic Policy Council, is expected to write an endorsement on Ryan’s behalf in an upcoming Sunday edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer, as well as tap into his Republican state. rolodex, POLITICO learned.

“Tim hangs out in every county in Ohio, including heavily Republican counties in southwestern Ohio,” Bridgeland told POLITICO. “He really listens to people, wants to know what their concerns are. And JD Vance tears people apart. And the last thing this country needs right now is more people igniting the worst dimensions of human nature.

Ryan’s internal poll also shows he’s making inroads with independents: It showed him 20 points with those voters. According to the poll, Vance also has 85% name identification and a 50% unfavorable rating after a deadly and costly Republican primary. Ryan, who enjoyed a smoother journey to his party’s nomination, ends up with 80% name identification and a 36% unfavorable rating).

But Republicans on the ground in Ohio and national agents in DC say they are confident the liberal congressman will fall dramatically as Vance hits the air with positives and, especially as Ryan begins to face attack ads in the Republican-leaning state.

A person familiar with One Nation’s decision to buy ad time in Ohio said “the cash flow disparity between the two candidates is concerning,” but they expect a victory from Vance “if he fills this gap a bit”.

Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC that backed Vance in the primary with Thiel’s $15 million, will also spend on Vance’s behalf again in the general election, according to a person familiar with the group’s plan. Thiel has yet to say if he’ll write another check, but the super PAC has added new donors and intends to spend seven figures on Vance this fall.

“As far as what’s to come, I think it’s probably at its climax now,” Putnam County Republican Party Chairman Tony Schroeder said, referring to Ryan. “Frankly, we are in a period where people do not pay much attention. When the engagement takes place, nothing will help Tim Ryan. »

Vance has been off the campaign trail in Ohio several times this summer, including trips to Conservative Political Action Conference events. But in addition to addressing crowds of activists, the trips also served as fundraising opportunities. Before speaking in Dallas at CPAC Texas on Friday, Vance headlined the organization’s donor breakfast. He has also held one-on-one meetings in the donor-rich city, as he did when he visited Tel Aviv last month for CPAC Israel.

“To be frank, a lot of it is bedwetting,” a person familiar with the campaign said, noting how unpopular President Joe Biden remains in Ohio and how Republican ads will seek to tie Ryan to the president.

During his Friday speech, Vance urged those in attendance to sign up to make calls and knock on his campaign’s doors, criticizing Ryan as a “weak and bogus congressman.” His comments signaled there was still a fight to be had to win over voters disappointed with Democrats, “whether they’re conservative, whether they vote Republican every time – people who just want a good life in the country that their grandparents and great-grandparents built.”

A campaign spokesperson said Vance was unavailable for an interview Friday while at CPAC Texas.

Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick said he first met Vance last month when Vance was traveling the state and visiting law enforcement officials one-on-one. Levorchick took office in 2011 as a Democrat, but changed his voter registration last year to Republican. Obama-Trump County, Ottawa broke its longtime beacon status in 2020 to back Trump for a second term.

Levorchick said from now on he plans to vote for Vance this fall, suggesting there is mistrust of Ryan in some law enforcement circles.

“Is he more right than some people would like? Maybe,” Levorchick said of Vance. “But when you only have two candidates to choose from, you have to weigh which one is best suited to represent you.”


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