Home Christian News 6 Candidates for US Senate in Ohio Vie for Evangelical Votes

6 Candidates for US Senate in Ohio Vie for Evangelical Votes

ohio evangelical votes
FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2019 file photo, Ohio Sen. Matt Dolan, left, speaks during a news conference at the Ohio Department of Public Safety in Columbus, Ohio. Dolan, the lone Republican moderate at a U.S. Senate candidate forum in Ohio on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, said at one point he felt "like a Browns fan in Pittsburgh Stadium.” The crowd of about 950 at the evangelical Genoa Baptist Church in the northern suburbs of Columbus never quite booed the state senator whose family owns the Cleveland Indians, but they didn't embrace him either. The event marked the first time the major candidates had been on the stage together. (Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File)

WESTERVILLE, Ohio (AP) — The lone Republican moderate at a U.S. Senate candidate forum in Ohio on Sunday said at one point he felt “like a Browns fan in Pittsburgh Stadium.”

The crowd of about 950 at the evangelical Genoa Baptist Church in the northern suburbs of Columbus never quite booed Matt Dolan, a state senator whose family owns the Cleveland Indians, but they didn’t embrace him either.

It was the first time all the major candidates to fill the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Rob Portman were on the stage together. They were Dolan, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Republican Party chair Jane Timken, author JD Vance and Cleveland businesspeople Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno.

Dolan said he would have supported certifying the 2020 presidential election, calling it the only option under the U.S. Constitution; favors an anti-LGBT discrimination bill, because it’s good for business; and backs the $1 trillion infrastructure bill pending in Congress.

“I don’t know how you can say you’re fighting for Ohio if you wouldn’t vote for this bill,” he said, arguing it would return gas tax money to the state, repair a key bridge and bring needed broadband in Appalachia.

The other five candidates balked — though a bipartisan deal on the legislation was largely the handiwork of Portman — calling the bill crazy, a disaster and a complete boondoggle. All said they would accept Portman’s endorsement, though.

Mandel reiterated his position, to applause, that the 2020 election was stolen from incumbent Donald Trumpwhich is untrue. Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, found no evidence of widespread election fraud. Trump’s allegations of massive voting fraud also have been dismissed by a succession of judges and refuted by state election officials and an arm of his own administration’s Homeland Security Department.

Mandel, in answer to a question on the biggest threat facing schoolkids, ventured into schools’ role teaching values, saying, “My personal feeling is, there’s no such thing as separation of church and state.”

He said he would bring the “steel spine” of a U.S. Marine veteran to Washington, if elected — drawing one of the evening’s few direct attacks from Moreno.

“I loved your steel spine, which is why I supported you in 2012,” Moreno said. “But where was it last summer? When I was getting death threats, I was speaking out against the lockdown. That’s the difference. When you weren’t running for office, what were you doing?”

Vance, author of the book “Hillbilly Elegy,” named households without fathers as the biggest hurdle facing American children and said grandparents, like his own, who have had to raise the children of families harmed by the opioid crisis should be given the same help afforded foster parents to keep their families together.

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Julie Carr Smyth is a journalist with the Associated Press.