Progressive Candidate Seeks to Derail Rep. Ryan’s Bid for Democratic Nomination for U.S. Sen. Portman’s Seat

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Progressive political activist and consumer protection attorney Morgan Harper will take a second shot at challenging a veteran Democrat with her announcement Wednesday that she will compete for the Democratic nomination to replace retiring U.S. Senator Rob Portman.

Harper, who lost the 2020 primary for Ohio’s 3rd Congressional District to a four-term congresswoman, has declared her candidacy to challenge Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH-13), a 10-term Democrat representing a swath of industrial Northeast Ohio, which includes the cities of Youngstown and Akron.

“It’s time for an Ohio where a woman’s right to choose [an abortion] is always protected and we keep our streets safe from gun violence,” Harper says in a video announcing her candidacy, “where workers get paid what we deserve and where we finally achieve racial justice.”

Attempts to reach Harper, an African American, through her campaign website, Facebook page, and the Stand Up Columbus! social services nonprofit she co-founded in June 2020, were unsuccessful.

According to her online Ballotpedia biography, she was born in a Columbus hospital and went into the foster care system. A Columbus City School District teacher and immigrant adopted her and raised her.

Nevertheless, her bio reveals a privileged education having gone to the private Columbus Academy with the help of financial aid. She also received financial aid from the Ron Brown Scholar Program to attend Tufts College for a bachelor of arts degree, a master’s from Princeton University, and a law degree from Stanford Law School.

Her resume includes three years as a staff attorney with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau – created during the administration of President Barack Obama – that provides consumer education and advocacy, and enforcement of lending rules.

Phone messages left to various congressional offices of Rep. Ryan by The Ohio Star were not returned. Calls and email messages to the Ohio Democratic Party offices in Columbus also were not returned.

Second time around

Harper challenged U.S. Representative Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03) for the House seat in the May 2020 primary as a Justice Democrat but lost in a 29 percent to 71 percent landslide in a low-turnout election held entirely by mail-in ballot in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beatty called in members of the Black Congressional Caucus to secure her renomination just as Caucus members assisted endorsed candidate Shontel Brown in her early August primary win against Justice Democrats’ candidate Nina Turner.

Like the 2020 campaign, Harper’s challenge to Ryan sets on a foundation of progressive programs such as workers’ rights, environmental and racial justice, universal health care, gun control, and “fighting vs. the far-right and corporate greed,” according to the campaign video.

Indeed, Harper most recently worked for the anti-trust American Economic Liberties Project nonprofit that seeks legislation to hold large corporations accountable, including opposition to Big Tech.

Also, expect Harper to make race and racial justice a central theme. The two-minute and 20-second video includes a clip near the end showing former CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley talking about how the black vote is key to a Democrat running a statewide race.

“When African-Americans vote in large numbers, Ohio votes Democratic,” he says in the non-contextual interview clip. “And when they don’t come to the polls, Ohio votes Republican.”

But the race against Beatty occurred in a district covering most of urban and suburban Columbus, according to Data USA, made up of 49.2 percent Caucasians and 34.3 percent black. Ohio overall, according to the demographics website, is 78.3 percent Caucasian and 12.4 percent black.

Still, Trump extended his support among Ohio voters in November 53.3 percent to 45.2 percent against Joe Biden.

GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel said the challenge for the November 2022 race is how far to the political left Ryan has drifted during his tenure in Congress, even as Ohio as a whole has become more conservative. That difference may expand as Ryan campaigns against Harper, who Mandel expects will not win the Democratic nomination but nevertheless could pull Ryan further to the left.

Ryan, “has governed like a liberal,” Mandel says. “It will be interesting for Morgan Harper to expose the fraud (Ryan) is, an ultra-liberal and a chameleon.”

Mandel, whose The Club for Growth financial backer on August 4 claimed its candidate has a 40 percent share of Republicans among five GOP contenders listed in the poll, adds, “The voters of Ohio will completely reject him.”

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Brian Ball is a reporter for The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Send tips to [email protected]
Photo “Morgan Harper” by Morgan Harper.
Photo “Rep. Tim Ryan” by Tim Ryan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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