Democrat Rep. Tim Ryan stressed the need to come together as a state and country in his Ohio primary night victory speech Tuesday, telling supporters that doesn’t mean “looking at each other and seeing a Democrat or seeing a Republican.”
Ryan, who CNN projects will win Ohio’s Democratic Senate primary, will now have to convince several Republicans and former Democrats to vote for him if he is to have any chance in winning Ohio’s Senate race in November.
The state has moved away from the party in recent years — former President Donald Trump won the state twice and no Democrat other than Sen. Sherrod Brown has won nonjudicial statewide office in Ohio since 2008.
“Look, I’m not here to get in a fight, I’m not going to win on election day and try to punish 50% of the people that are living in this state or in this country,” Ryan said on Tuesday. “We are here to heal, we are here to become Americans, we are here to come together.”
He added: “We can do it, by coming together. … I am certain, I am absolutely in my bones certain that we can do this — if we come together. And it’s not about finding our differences, it’s not about hate. We have to love each other, we have to care about each other, we have to see the best in each other, we have to forgive each other, we have to show some grace.”
Ryan’s message appears to be squarely focused on Democrats who are skeptical in the ability of a voter who backed Trump twice to come back to the Democratic Party — or whether it is even worth Democrat’s time to attempt to win back that voter.
Ryan said in a recent interview with CNN that winning back a two-time Trump voter is “completely doable.”
“Clearly there are going to be people who support Trump and they will do whatever he says and vote for whoever he says, but Ohio voters, they don’t necessarily want to be told who to vote for,” Ryan said.
Because Ryan’s primary has been largely a forgone conclusion, he has been trying to do just that for months, including in his paid media.
In one ad, Ryan blames “both parties” in Washington for “wasting time on stupid fights.” In another ad, Ryan — standing in a bar and playing darts — says, “Defunding the police is way off the mark. We need more cops—not less. My party also got it wrong on the trade deals that sent your jobs overseas.”
Both ads are meant to distance Ryan from national Democrats at a time when the perception of the national party in Ohio is increasingly negative.
“I want you to bring Republicans to our events, I want you to bring independents to our events, because this is a special movement happening here in Ohio,” Ryan said Tuesday. “We hear it all over.”
Read more about Ryan and his campaign here.