Four Democrats competing in primary for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat

Four candidates are running in the Democratic primary for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat on May 3, 2022. Candidates Morgan Harper and Tim Ryan have received the most media attention. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R), first elected in 2010, is not running for re-election.

Harper is an attorney and former advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Harper is running on a plan she said would create 600,000 clean energy jobs, and would also include federal $15 minimum wage, the PRO Act, Medicare for All, and full student loan debt forgiveness. Harper told The New York Times that her campaign would aim to mobilize Black, women, and young voters. In 2020, Harper ran unsuccessfully for U.S. House in District 3 against U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D).

Ryan was elected to the U.S. House in 2002. Ryan has campaigned on a range of economic issues, including revitalizing the state’s manufacturing industry, a federal $15 minimum wage, the PRO Act, renegotiating existing foreign trade deals, and expanding affordable healthcare. Ryan told CNN that his campaign would “focus like a laser beam on workers.” Ryan was re-elected to represent District 13 in 2020 following an unsuccessful presidential campaign.

Harper and Ryan disagree most on healthcare policy. Harper supports Medicare for All, which would expand Medicare to cover all Americans and replace the existing private health insurance and marketplace options. Ryan supports the creation of a public option, an opt-in insurance plan that all Americans could join. In a 2019 presidential debate, Ryan called Medicare for All a potential disaster for the party. In October 2021, Harper said that universal healthcare was “the only way to protect workers.”

Also running in the primary are Traci Johnson and LaShondra Tinsley.

Donald Trump won Ohio by eight percentage points in 2016 and 2020. Portman won re-election in 2016 by 19 percentage points. Sherrod Brown (D), Ohio’s other U.S. Senator, last won re-election in 2018 by seven percentage points.