CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Republican J.D. Vance, running against Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) for Ohio’s open United States Senate seat, is pledging to help America’s union workers take back power from their Democrat union bosses.
For months, Ryan has campaigned with labor union leadership across Ohio almost entirely thanks to the Democrat Party’s longtime close ties to union bosses. More often than not, though, such close ties are against the will of dues-paying union workers.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News during a recent swing through southeast Ohio to channel his Appalachian roots, Vance said he will work with Republicans in Congress to take power away from union bosses with deep ties to the Democrat Party and give it back to union workers.
“… [Republicans] have to have a less hostile relationship with labor,” Vance said.
“The real flip side of that is, I think we need to pass legislation to give the union membership more power and the current union leadership a little bit less power because they’re still so in the tank for the Democratic Party,” Vance continued.
“If 70 to 80 percent of your membership is voting for Republicans, the union leadership should not be able to only back Democrats,” Vance said.
In the highly-contested Ohio Senate race, Vance told Breitbart News that Ohio union workers have wanted to endorse his nationalist-populist campaign but that union bosses, closely linked to Democrat Party officials, have objected to such endorsements.
“We’ve had multiple unions in the state of Ohio, where the local membership has wanted to endorse me but the national membership either vetoed that and kept it neutral or vetoed that and have had the union endorse Tim Ryan — even though we know 70 to 80 percent of the membership is going to end up voting for me in the election,” Vance said.
“One of the things we have to do — and I think this goes back to not being hostile to workers in the first place — is take power away from the Democratic union bosses and give power back to the actual union membership,” he continued. “I think it’ll be good for workers, it’ll also be good for our political system.”
The divide between Democrat union bosses and their union memberships is more than evident in the latest Washington Post report which details how union leadership in Ohio has struggled this election cycle to convince their members to vote for Ryan.
“Most of the workers in my plant are Republicans,” a 35-year-old union steelworker in Ohio told the Post. “I don’t ask how they’re voting, but I would assume for [Vance] because they give me a hard time when I wear a Tim Ryan shirt to work.”
The Post reported:
“Democrat is a dirty word [around here],” said JoJo Burgess, a canvasser for the AFL-CIO in southwest Pennsylvania and a union steelworker. Burgess, 52, has talked to workers outside the gates of steel factories and other union worksites in the region before every election since 2004. That job got much harder in 2016 and 2020, with tough confrontations that sometimes got physical between workers, he said. [Emphasis added]
Asked why union members turned to Trump, Burgess recalled a fateful comment Hillary Clinton made in 2016 in Ohio about putting “a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” [Emphasis added]
Most recently, President Joe Biden told a crowd in California that his administration is “going to be shutting these [coal] plants down all across America,” a remark that harks back to failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s vowing to put coal miners “out of business.”
David Cox with the Ironworkers Local 290 in Dayton, Ohio told Getty that he has tried to get union members on board with Democrats like Ryan this election cycle:
Cox, the leader of the local union that trains apprentices preaches about Democrats working to revive the industry. But “whether it’s guns, God, abortion or anything else, a lot of our members don’t want to vote Democrat,” the unionist explains in his office crammed with signs for the left. [Emphasis added]
As part of GOP outreach to union workers, Vance told Breitbart News that a fierce industrial policy must be a part of any future Republican agenda. Broadscale tariffs, not free trade deals, Vance said, should lead such a policy as well as reducing foreign competition in the labor market.
“To really rebuild the industrial heartland of America, you need a committed national policy of tariffs, of protecting American industries, and of supporting the workers who are going to work in those industries,” Vance said. “Without that, you’re at best going to do a little bit less damage than before.”
The interview with Vance happened over lunch after one of Vance’s stops in Chillicothe — roughly 100 miles outside of Cincinnati — when he was making a swing through southeast Ohio. Vance started the day in Gallipolis in Gallia County, Chillicothe in Brown County, and Mt. Orab in Ross County.
Additionally, Vance acknowledged during the interview that the country needs a “new generation of leaders,” not the “old generation” like his opponent is a part of. With the election coming to a close, many Senate races are extremely close — with Republicans picking up a significant amount of group in recent months.
However, a recent poll from the Trafalgar Group showed that Vance secured 53.9 percent of support from likely voters in the Ohio U.S. Senate race and has a ten-point lead over Democrat.
Ohio’s U.S. Senate race is critical to the Republicans’ chance to retake the majority in the 2022 midterm elections. With Ohio currently being represented by a Republican, it is crucial for the party to keep the seat.
The Senate is currently divided 50-50 between the parties, with Democrat Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. Senate Republicans must hold seats in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania and net at least one seat to put the GOP back in the majority and hinder Biden’s agenda.
The Ohio Senate election, along with other races throughout the country, will take place on November 8.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter here.