Ohio Senate Race: Who Has the Union Label?

Both Strickland and Portman claim union support

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said he is still beating Sen. Rob Portman in union backing in their Senate race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said he is still beating Sen. Rob Portman in union backing in their Senate race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted July 28, 2016 at 11:40pm

Former Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland said he still has strong union support even after two major unions in his state backed his Senate race opponent.  

The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police and the Ohio Conference of Teamsters this week both backed Strickland’s Republican rival, incumbent Sen. Rob Portman.  

The two unions that just endorsed Portman had previously backed Strickland in both his successful run for governor in 2006 and his unsuccessful bid for re-election four years later.  

But Strickland announced the backing of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters this week as well, and his campaign has said he also has the support of labor organizations like the AFL-CIO, AFSCME and the United Auto Workers.  

“If you compare my union endorsements to his, there’s no comparison,” Strickland said in an interview at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.   

Still, last month, the United Mine Workers announced its support for Portman, who touted the endorsement in a campaign ad saying Strickland had “turned his back on Ohio coal country.”  

Strickland has also had trouble fundraising compared to Portman.  

His most recent quarterly reports showed that his campaign raised $1.9 million in total contributions and had $3.7 million in cash on hand.  

That’s compared  to Portman’s $2.9 million raised last quarter, with $13 million in cash on hand.   

But Strickland said he would not raise as much money as Portman — and that he wouldn’t need to. He also said despite the amount of money spent by outside groups, the race is still a tossup.  

“I am proud of the fact that in the face of such massive spending, mostly negative TV ads, that basically it’s a tossup race,” he said. “So I feel very good about that.  

“I wonder how many other candidates could endure such withering attacks and still maintain a tossup position,” he said.  

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
Correction: July 29, 2016, 12:09 p.m.  | An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote from a Portman campaign ad to the United Mine Workers.