Democrat Tim Ryan is using his fundraising advantage over Republican JD Vance in the Ohio Senate race to define himself as conservative-friendly, Axios’ Josh Kraushaar reports.
Drive the news: Ryan’s latest TV ad to target GOP audiences, airing exclusively on Fox News, shows him receiving praise from conservative hosts like Tucker Carlson.
- Previous ads have highlighted the Democrat’s political deals with Donald Trump and disagreements with Barack Obama.
- Vance’s campaign, meanwhile, remains silent on the airwaves.
State of play: Ryan, a 10-term congressman from the Youngstown area, has previously won re-election in a state Obama won in 2008 and 2012.
- But Ryan’s district and the state have shifted to the right since then, with Trump winning the state by an eight-point margin in his two ballots.
Enlarge: David Niven, associate professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati and former Democratic Party speechwriter, points to Pike County in southern Ohio as proof that the unorthodox campaign ploy might be the right strategy .
- Pike was an evenly divided county in 2012, but three-quarters of voters opted for Trump in 2020.
What he says: High turnout among Democratic voters is no longer enough to win a statewide campaign, Niven tells Axios Columbus.
- “Not in 2022. Maybe 10 years ago.”
The big picture: Although Ryan’s campaign has spent $6.4 million on TV ads since winning the primary in May, Vance hasn’t spent a penny.
- Protect Ohio Values, the pro-Vance super PAC funded by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, has raised just $675,800 since Vance won the deadly and crowded GOP primary, according to Cleveland.com.
The bottom line: Ryan’s bet to attract culturally conservative voters is seen as his only chance to maintain his fundraising lead and overcome obstacles on Election Day.