Ohio Dems to Biden: Don't stand so close to us

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Looks like Stacey Abrams was ahead of the curve in January. Top-of-the-Ohio-ticket candidates Tim Ryan and Nan Whaley have suddenly discovered “unavoidable scheduling conflicts” when Joe Biden arrives in Cleveland to promote his union ties. Whatever could make them miss an opportunity to be seen with a president from their own party?

Yes, that’s a rhetorical question …

Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Ohio, will not appear with President Biden in Cleveland on Wednesday as the president works to tout a program benefitting union workers.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Nan Whaley will also be absent from the visit. Both Ryan’s and Whaley’s campaigns have cited unavoidable scheduling conflicts.

The only Ohio Democrat running for re-election that will show up to the event is Rep. Marcy Kaptur from Ohio’s 9th CD. Give her credit for some political guts in embracing Biden on this visit, if not much for political savvy. That district represents portions of Cleveland, Sandusky, and Toledo in one of the weirdest configurations of any congressional district; its nickname is the Snake by the Lake. It’s also a D+9 district, which in normal times would be a slam-dunk for Democrats in largely urban setting.

This year? Cook has it listed as a “toss-up,” and has for months:

The New York Times previously reported that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s PAC has reserved millions of dollars in advertising to help bolster the chances of vulnerable Democrat incumbents. In a statement, the NRCC noted that Kaptur’s name was missing from the list. NRCC Spokeswoman Courtney Parella said, “Marcy Kaptur’s own party knows she’s a lost cause. She should retire now and spare herself the embarrassment of a loss in November.”

Parella previously said of Kaptur, “It’s no surprise that Marcy Kaptur has become one of the country’s most vulnerable Democrats after continuously supporting Nancy Pelosi’s toxic socialist agenda. Kaptur should save herself the embarrassment of losing re-election and retire now.”

Kaptur has served in the U.S. House since 1983, making her the second-longest-serving female in that body’s history. Since the Biden administration took office, she has been an automatic vote in favor of the Biden agenda. Her voting record shows that she has voted with the Biden agenda 100 percent of the time as of March 2022.

Kaptur holds a 95-percent rating from the radical pro-abortion group NARAL. In 2016, she supported Bernie Sanders in the Democrat primary for president.

It doesn’t look as though Kaptur was doing well without Pelosi’s cash. At the end of 2021, the Tennessee Star reported from her FEC filing that she had raised only $470K for her re-election and had just over a million dollars in the bank. As of mid-April, those numbers had grown to $973K raised and $1.36M in the bank. She’s outraising her competition in direct fundraising, but those are weak numbers for an incumbent, especially a Democrat in this cycle.

Tim Ryan and Nan Whaley have more to lose and less room for political risk. There seems to be little doubt now as to the risk Biden represents to down-ticket Democrats who embrace him on the campaign trail, as The Hill notes:

Biden’s approval rating could stand to hurt down-ballot Democrats like Ryan and Whaley running in November’s midterm elections, particularly in a red-leaning state like Ohio. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates Ryan’s Senate race as “lean Republican” and Whaley’s gubernatorial challenge to incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine (R) as “likely Republican.”

That may be especially true in Ohio, where Biden’s popularity has dropped into the 20s in the latest Civiqs tracking poll. I’ll have more on that later, but these kinds of high-profile snubs won’t do anything to improve matters for Biden. It’s one thing to have activists running to friendly media outlets to gripe about the current president. It’s another entirely to have major midterm candidates actively avoid being seen and photographed in his presence.

Voters aren’t likely to be fooled anyway. Kaptur may as well stand next to Biden, because this midterm will be a referendum on the president no matter how much blameshifting Biden will do in his address in Cleveland. Ryan and Whaley are kidding themselves if they think they can distance themselves from Biden’s stench.