Road to Senate Runs through Geauga County
NOVEMBER 18, 2021
U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Niles) made a campaign stop in Geauga County Nov. 14 to rally donors to his race for the U.S. Senate seat that will open up after Rob Portman (R-Cincinnati) retires next year.
And while two decades have passed since Ryan represented Geauga County in the Ohio Senate, some things haven’t changed.
“One of the long-term memories I had of representing Geauga County was — it snowed up here a lot,” Ryan said at a fundraiser held Sunday at the EOUV Club in Russell Township, as the first heavy snow of the year fell outside. “So, I’m glad you accommodated me today with the snow.”
The event, held by the Geauga County Democratic Party, raised $4,000 for Ryan’s run for U.S. Senate.
Ryan told the crowd his campaign is about working people.
“What we’ve seen over the last 30 or 40 years has been the decimation of the middleclass, the decimation of communities, huge issues around income inequality, disinvestment into our people, our infrastructure,” Ryan said. “And at the same time, we’ve got a very pressing competition that we now find ourselves in with China.”
In his 19 years in Congress, Ryan said he’s sat in classified briefings on China and watched the country very closely. Ryan warned of China’s dumping of steel and other products into the U.S., putting American businesses out of business, stealing intellectual property and dumping fentanyl into the U.S. to spur the nationwide opioid crisis.
“Look what’s happened over the last 30 or 40 years — they out-manufacture us with semiconductors, they out-manufacture us with electric vehicles, they out-manufacture us with batteries,” he said. “Pharmaceuticals, 90% of the compounds for pharmaceuticals come from China. All these ships that are out in the port, those ships aren’t coming from Kansas or Dayton.”
The U.S. is not poised to out-compete China with an economy that is unfair to workers, he said.
Ryan said a recent report showed since the 1970s, CEO pay has gone up over 1,300%, while pay for the average worker increased only 18%.
An August 2021 report from the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank, backed up Ryan’s numbers. Additionally, the EPI report said in 2020, the ratio of CEO-to-typical-worker compensation was 351-to-1, a rise from 307-to-1 in 2019 and a big increase from 21-to-1 in 1965 and 61-to-1 in 1989.
Ryan said this rising inequality has led to huge levels of “deaths of despair,” from suicide, addiction, mental health issues and depression. However, he added, as he travels the state, he has seen a shift in how workers are feeling.
“The shift that’s happening now is workers are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Right? We don’t want to have to stare at the ceiling at night if our kid is sick wondering how we’re gonna pay for it. How we’re gonna pay for diabetes medication, how we’re gonna pay for that co-pay,” he said.
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden on Nov. 15 is the exact thing the country needs to do to put money in people’s pockets and out-compete China, Ryan said.
We’re investing into our kids, we’re investing into our families, our infrastructure, our education, our health, our welfare,” he said.
After lamenting the loss of the 16,000 jobs at the Lordstown motor plant in his congressional district, Ryan said if the nation goes all-in on electric vehicles, the state of Ohio will be peppered with factories dedicated to manufacturing parts for cars and charging stations.
“And then, we fight like hell to make sure the workers are cut in on the deal and they’re going to get a piece of the action,” he said.
During dinner, party chair Janet Carson asked members of the audience who are serving, or have served, in public offices in the county to stand and be recognized.
“So when anybody says there are no democrats in Geauga County, I say they don’t know what they’re talking about,” she said.
Carson also introduced two other candidates to the crowd. State Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) is throwing his hat into the ring for Ohio attorney general.
Crossman brought up current redistricting efforts, which have been plagued by delays and conflict over fairness.
“Everyone is fond of saying, recently, that Ohio is a red state. Ohio is a rigged state,” Crossman said. “With every breath, Democrats in the statehouse are fighting to make Ohio a fair state because fair districts mean responsive government.”
Crossman also called out corruption scandals in Columbus, including the Larry Householder scandal, which was the largest public corruption case in Ohio history. The issue isn’t between Republican and Democrat, he said, but between right and wrong.
Brendan Kelley is running for Congress in the 14th district against incumbent Dave Joyce (R-Bainbridge Township). He got involved in politics after his brother, Chris, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident when Brendan was only 14. At 16, their father died of a heart attack, he said.
Although they had health insurance, Kelley said his mother struggled to pay for his brother’s care.
“It doesn’t matter how well off you are, it doesn’t matter the opportunities you have in this country — getting sick shouldn’t destroy your life,” he said. “I got into this race for my brother because there are too many people like him, too many families like ours. And unfortunately, there’s people in D.C. who, quite frankly, don’t care.”