“Ass Kicker” Tim Ryan—He Calls out J.D. Vance for Lying About Alex “Psycho” Jones October 23, 2022
Ohio. The Buckeye State. For decades, OH has been a swing state in presidential elections and other down-ballot races. Not anymore. Its white, aging middle class population and its loss of black and urban ethnics in its major cities has made this state a notch or two more GOP than the rest of the nation (See Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). In 2016, it voted for Donald over Hillary by 8 points and in 2020, despite a major effort by Biden, went for Trump again by a 6-point margin (Cohen & Cook 2022). However, Democrats can still win political contests here. Sherrod Brown, a progressive, was re-elected to a third term in 2018. For Democrats to win in OH, they must, like Sen. Brown, be blunt-talking populists. Buckeye Democrats must show they can vote independently from the national Democratic ticket, especially by opposing free-trade agreements like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). Most OH blue-collar workers feel such trade deals with Mexico and Canada have hurt their state and jobs. Brown is the type of Democrat who can unify his party’s progressive and centrist wings (Cohen & Cook 2022). In Campaign 2022, OH 13th Congressional District (CD) Congressmember Tim Ryan, who has represented the swingy Rustbelt area of Youngstown and the Akron region, with a mere Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of D+1, is “Team Blue’s” nominee to replace retiring GOP Senator Rob Portman. Ryan is going against a GOP Trump “idol,” venture capitalist J.D. Vance, whose claim to fame is his book “Hillbilly Elegy.” In his first debate against Vance, Ryan attacked Vance for being called by Trump at one of his rallies an “ass kisser.” Ryan stated, “Ohio needs and ‘ass kicker,’ not an ‘ass kisser,’” a sound bite that resonated. In his second and final debate, on 10/17/22, Ryan, once again, showed how Democrats can use a sound bite brilliantly. Vance, despite Ryan’s independent record, attacked Ryan for “sucking up to the Democratic establishment,” especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Ryan’s sword-thrusting reply? “You keep talking about Nancy Pelosi. If you want to run against Nancy Pelosi, move back to San Francisco and run against Nancy Pelosi. You’re running against me (politico.com).” Spot on! Remember, Vance made his fortune as a venture capitalist in San Francisco which Pelosi represents. Here’s my message to fellow Democrats. Follow Ryan. Please stop cowering over being tarred as a “Pelosi clone.” Even if your GOP opponent never worked in SF, argue as Ryan correctly did, “Go to SF and run against her (Pelosi).” You’re running against me, not her.” Translation: I am my own person.” What is so hard about saying that, fellow Democrats?
Besides the Pelosi soundbite, Vance took an even bigger hit from Ryan. During this final debate, Ryan called out Vance for saying that psycho/conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was a “credible source of information.” Huh? Vance, who won his primary with conspiracist Demagogue Donald’s endorsement, sees no problem backing another tin-foil hatter, Alex Jones. Jones was recently ordered by a jury to pay nearly $1 billion to family members of victims killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting because he claimed this CT massacre was “fake.” Ryan took it to Vance on this matter. In Ryan’s words, “We are running for the United States Senate. This is the highest office you could get in this country except for president. And he’s (Vance) running around backing these extremists. The most extreme people in the country. A guy who denied Sandy Hook. He’s like , ‘No, he’s credible.’” Vance replied, “This is a complete fabrication. I never said that.” Ryan answered back, “You’re on tape, man. It’ll be like 30 minutes and we’re all going to know you’re lying.” In 9/2022, Vance had tweeted, “Alex Jones is a far more reputable source of information than MSNBC host Rachel Maddow (huffpost.com, Harvey, 10/18/22).” In the video, referring to that tweet, Vance said, “People are terrified of unconventional people, of people who don’t think the thoughts that they’re supposed to think. And that to me, is like the opposite of what you would want in an elite. You would want an elite that’s willing to think outside the box, that’s willing to say, well, maybe this like a crazy idea, but maybe it’s true (huffpost.com, 10/18/22).” Translation: “It’s fine to think the Sandy Hook massacre may not have occurred, just like it’s fine to believe that the earth is flat, or that 1+1= 20.” Vance wants elite “leaders” like that. Vance is a blatant liar and a conspiracist crackpot to boot. Let’s look at this very close OH race that could tip the balance in the 50-50 Senate.
Tenth-term Democratic Congressmember Tim Ryan (49), as previously noted, represents the very swingy area of Youngstown, OH and the Akron region. It is the least Democratic and least urban of OH’s 4 “Team Blue” congressional districts. It went for Donald by 7 points in 2016 and barely flipped to Biden in 2020 by a 3-point margin (Cohen & Cook 2022). Niles, OH native Ryan received a 1995 BA from Bowling Green University and a 2000 law degree from Concord New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce Law Center. From 1995-1997, Ryan was an aide to U.S. Dem. Cong. James Traficant. Ryan won a seat in the OH State Senate, where he served from 2000-2002. When fairly flaky Traficant was convicted and forced to resign after his conviction for racketeering and bribery, Ryan ran for open seat. In the primary, he beat a Democrat who argued in favor of NAFTA. and went on to win the general election. Despite the increasingly swingy district he had, Ryan was re-elected nine other times (Cohen & Cook 2022).
In the House, Ryan received a 100% score from labor’s AFL-CIO in 2019. He is, however, more of a centrist Democrat who pays close attention to his socially conservative blue- collar base. He had a 53%-47% social Liberal-Conservative score and a composite 55%-45% overall score according to the Political Almanac’s 2019-2020 rating. Ryan, the so-called “puppet” of Nancy Pelosi (NOT) challenged her for Speaker after the 2016 election because she was, frankly, in his view, not in tune with the real Democratic heartland, especially workers who went for Trump. Ryan lost, but won 63 votes. Initially not a pro-choice Democrat, after studying the issue, he became pro-choice in 2015. Ryan then understood that abortion was an issue between a woman and her family. Initially, he was also against gun control in a district with many hunters. However, after the Sandy Hook massacre, he realized that a solution to gun violence must be found (See Cohen & Cook 2022). He voted with Donald 16.2% of the time, but has a perfect score in voting for Biden’s policies, centrist-progressive positions that his blue- collar area could back (See projects.fivethirtyeight.com, trump score, projects.fivethirtyeight.com/biden-congress). Ryan has remained a very harsh critic of international trade deals, as befits his district and OH. For several years, Ryan sponsored the Chinese Currency Act, a proposal to counter China’s alleged manipulation and undervaluation of its currency. He has co-chaired the Congressional Manufacturing Caucus. That group seeks to revive the nation’s industrial base and revise its trade policy. When General Motors shut down its Lordstown plant in his 13th CD, Ryan attacked Trump for failing to revive manufacturing in his area. In Ryan’s words, “What we’ve gotten instead are broken promises and petty tweets (Cohen & Cook 2022).” Ryan wants to expand abortion rights. He also pushed a bill for bipartisan gun safety this summer (“politico.com). Ryan ran for president in the 2020 Democratic primary, but his campaign never caught on, and he dropped out early in 10/2019 (Cohen & Cook 2022).
And here is Ryan’s opponent J.D. Vance (38). Middletown, OH native, Vance is, of Scots-Irish descent. His family initially came from KY and often returns to visit friends and family there. He was adopted by his mother’s third husband, but was raised by his grandparents. In his book “Hillbillly Elegy,” Vance describes his chaotic upbringing and credits the Marine Corps, which he joined after high school, for really straightening him out. In the Marines, he served in the Iraq War as a journalist where he performed public affairs activities (Stilwell, 10/20/20, military.com/veteran-jobs). After the Marines, Vance graduated summa cum laude from Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, he worked for GOP Ohio State Senator Bob Schuler (worldcat.org). He obtained a law degree from Yale and was encouraged by his professor/mentor Amy Chua, the author of “Tiger Moms,” to write his memoir (Kitchener, theatlantic.com, 6/07/16). Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy”was on the NY Times Best Seller List in 2016 and 2017. The NY Times called it one of the best books to “help understand Trump’s win (nytimes.com, 11/09/16).”
After working at a corporate law firm, Vance moved to San Francisco to work in the technology sector. He served as a principal and made a fortune at right-wing Peter Thiel’s venture capital firm, Mithril Capital (bloombergcapital.com, McBride, 1/20/17). In 12/2016, Vance indicated he planned to move to OH and possibly run for office and start a non-profit to work on combatting Rust Belt drug addiction (washingtonpost.com, Heller, 2/06/17). With backing from Thiel and former Trump adviser Darren Blanton, Vance invested in a Canadian online video platform “Rumble,” a right-wing alternative to YouTube (Hagey, wsj.com, 5/19/21). When Vance ran to replace retiring GOP Senator Rob Portman in the 2022 GOP primary, Thiel gave him $10-15 million via a superPAC. “Patriotic” Thiel is in the process of applying for Maltese citizenship as have many other wealthy individuals (nytimes.com, Mac). Robert Mercer, another Trump supporter, who Steve Bannon worked with, also gave Vance strong financial assistance. With Trump’s backing, Vance won the primary on 5/03/22, defeating multiple candidates (cbsnews.com, 5/04/22, Linton, Brewster, & Navarro, politico.com).
Vance has been aptly called a right-wing populist and national conservative candidate, backed by Thiel and endorsed by Fox’s Tucker Carlson (spectatorworld.com). Vance is also influenced by another Thiel-backed U.S. Senate candidate, AZ’s wacko extremist GOPer Blake Masters as well as neo-reactionary blogger Curtis Yarvin . Yarvin is no fan of democracy and wants it replaced by a genuine monarchy. He supposedly condemns anti-Semitism , yet has talked about this hatred in favorable terms (vanityfair.com, Pogue, 4/20/22, wiki, Vance). And here are Vance’s specific stands on key issues. Vance opposes abortion and says there should be no exceptions for rape and incest. He backs an abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Sen. Lindsey Graham’s proposal, that some GOPers have avoided (politico.com). Vance stated that the leaked Supreme Ct. “Dobbs” opinion overturning Roe “would be an amazing victory.” The leaked opinion basically became the final Supreme Ct. one in 6/2022. OH’s Right to Life group endorsed Vance’s Senate campaign (Carr, abcnews.go, 4/7/22). He has voiced opposition to same-sex marriage (dispatch.com, BeMiller, 8/02/22). Vance has blamed “the childless left” for America’s problems. He is a fan of Hungarian strongman/fascist Viktor Orban. He likes Orban for encouraging married couples to have children and for arguing that non-parents should have less of a say in “how democracy functions (theguardian.com, Pengelly, 7/26/21).” In his 2022 Senate campaign, Vance falsely claimed that Pres. Biden was flooding OH with illegal drugs (washingtonpost.com, Kessler, 5/11/22). In the 2016 election, Vance initially called Donald “reprehensible” and described himself as a “Never-Trump guy (Jill & Smyth, abcnews.go , 4/15/22).” He once called Trump “America’s Hitler (politico.com).” However, like many gutless and opportunistic GOPers, Vance suddenly changed his rhetoric after deciding to run for the Senate. He apologized for calling Donald “reprehensible” and visited Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trump and Thiel and bow before him ahead of his official Senate run announcement (Primack, axios.com, 4/15/21). Vance had previously denounced Trump for demonizing immigrants. However, Vance himself has repeatedly called illegal immigration “dirty” after he decided to run for the Senate (cleveland.com, Tobias, 7/18/21). In 10/2021, Vance repeated Trump’s claims of voter fraud. Vance falsely stated that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election because of widespread voter fraud (Skolnick, tribtoday.com, 10/23/21). In addition, in a state where about 45,000 Ukrainian- Americans live, especially in the Cleveland area, Vance has called for cutting off U.S. support for Ukraine, now fighting a brutal unprovoked Russian invasion. Vance has bluntly stated that the U.S. shouldn’t devote “anymore tax-payer dollars to help the Ukrainians.” In Vance’s words, “I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another.” Dem. Ryan has attacked Vance as a “selfish venture capitalist who cares only about helping himself.” Ryan’s side has noted that “Rumble,” the social media platform Vance has invested in, has spread Russian disinformation (time.com, Cortellessa, 9/22/22). Ryan has repeatedly shown up to help OH’s Ukrainian community and is doing everything he can to help the Ukrainian community in its fight for freedom against Russia. Retiring GOP Senator Portman was a co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and popular GOP Gov. Mike DeWine has emphasized OH’s efforts to welcome the many Ukrainian refugees who have come to his state (time.com, Cortellessa, 9/22/22).
During the debate, the most heated exchange occurred when Vance was questioned about his basically backing the “great replacement theory.” That false and malignant theory asserts the “elites (some say Jews) are part of a plot to diminish white people’s influence via a systematic increase in immigration of non-white people.” Vance had previously said that Democratic leaders are “very explicit about that, they say they want more and more immigration because if that happens, they’ll ensure Republicans are never able to win another election.” Democrat Ryan slammed Vance. Ryan called the theory “nonsense” and slammed Vance for “running around and talking about replacement theory.” Vance called his attack “shameful (politico.com).” In his 10/17/2022 debate, Cong. Ryan also attacked Vance over an Associated Press story reported in 8/2022 that said Vance had hired an addiction specialist with ties to Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin. This consultant worked for Vance’s non-profit that was to supposedly attack drug-addiction. Ryan argued that Vance was, instead profiting from the opioid epidemic (independent.co. uk/news, Garcia).
Retiring GOP OH Senator Portman supported bipartisan deals on infrastructure, gun safety, and even a failed independent commission to investigate the 1/06/21 attempted Capitol coup by Trump supporters. Vance will, with his stands, clearly be a far more conservative and hard-edged politician. In fact, Portman’s former chief-of-staff endorsed Ryan over Vance. Ryan told Vance in that final debate, “I’m not quite sure why Rob Portman endorsed you, because you don’t agree with any of the compromises he's (Portman) been able to make over the last year (politico.com).” Another brilliant Ryan debate zinger.
The race to replace Portman has been extremely close. Previously, Ryan led Portman by 1-2 points. Now, some polls have Vance ahead by 1- 2 points, while other polls have Ryan barely clinging to the lead (See usatoday.com, 10/17/22, time.com, 9/22/22). All these polls are statistically within the margin of error. This race is one “heck of a ‘Toss Up.’” Control of the Senate may hinge on this contest’s outcome. What is the only way to keep extremist Vance from winning? OH Democrats, moderates, and Portman Republicans must come out in droves plus to vote in this 2022 campaign for Ryan who, unlike Vance, stands strong for real Buckeye values. Our democracy depends on sending Ryan to the Senate, not JD Vance.