GREENVILLE — When U.S. Senator Rob Portman, R-OH, announced in January 2021 that he would not seek reelection in 2022, he cited “partisan gridlock” as one of his reasons for bowing out.
The announcement, however, created a gridlock all its own, among Ohio Republicans at least.
The battle for the GOP nomination for Portman’s seat looks to be memorable, with a large and diverse group of candidates throwing their hat in the ring.
Among the most familiar faces seeking the seat are JD Vance, a venture capitalist and author of the bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” which was turned into a 2020 film. Former Ohio Treasurer and State Representative Josh Mandel has also declared his candidacy, following two unsuccessful runs for a senate seat in years past.
Another senate hopeful, Jane Timken, former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, who served in that capacity from January 2017 to February of this year, resigned the position upon announcing her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat.
Timken was in Greenville, Ohio, Wednesday and spoke with Darke County Media about her hopes of winning the GOP nomination next spring and keeping the seat Republican in November 2022.
Timken was instrumental in shifting Ohio Republicans away from former presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich to President Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign, and ran for the Ohio GOP chairmanship as a result.
“I’m not the kind of person who can sit on the sidelines. I said ‘this is absolutely wrong as Republicans, and as Republicans we need to support our nominee,’” she said, referring to the unwillingness of Kasich and other Republicans to support Trump.
Timken’s enthusiasm for Trump carried over into his 2020 presidential campaign. Though he lost to Democrat Joe Biden, Trump won Ohio by 8 percent.
As the GOP candidates approach the starting line to run for Portman’s seat, many of them, including Timken, are staking their claim as the “Trump candidate,” as rank-and-file GOP enthusiasm for the 45th President has not diminished.
“The Trump factor will clearly be a major issue, especially in Ohio,” said Timken regarding GOP prospects for the mid-term elections. “I drive around Ohio, and there are Trump flags and Trump signs everywhere.”
“The level of enthusiasm by Republican primary voters, I’ve not seen anything like it since 2010,” she added. “People are showing up to events, they are aware of what’s happening in our country — inflation, what’s happening at the border, Joe Biden’s socialist spending agenda — they are up in arms about it and want to take their country back.”
Timken also characterizes her own campaign organization as enthusiastic, having already appointed campaign chairs in each of Ohio’s 88 counties.
“As chair, I have always been focused on the grass roots, the infrastructure of voter contact, getting out the vote,” she said. “That’s how we win these races.”
Asked what she sees as the biggest issues facing Ohioans going into the 2022 election season, Timken said, “It’s our economy, inflation, our workforce. Every time I drive around Ohio, businesses are telling me they can’t find people to work. The average voter is very aware of what’s happening to our country.”
Timken also mentioned Critical Race Theory (or CRT) as being of concern for parents of school-age children.
“Moms and dads are up in arms about what’s happening in our schools,” she explained. “They’re very upset about the divisive indoctrination of their children. They want their kids back in school and to be taught the fundamentals, not being taught that they’re racist.”
Timken wants voters to know she will fight for conservative ideals if elected to the senate.
“I have been in the trenches fighting for the America First agenda for four years and then some,” she said. “I want to go to Washington, D.C. and continue that fight, to be someone who can stand up for Ohio and our country.”