Oct 19, 2022 - Politics

Final Senate debate sets stage for Nov. 8

Side-by-side photos of Ohio Senate candidates Rep. Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance.

Ohio Senate candidates Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance. Photo: Paul Vernon/AP Photo

J.D. Vance and Rep. Tim Ryan went head-to-head for their second and final debate Monday night in Youngstown.

Why it matters: With the nation watching, Ohio's Senate race is playing a pivotal role in which party will be in the majority come January.

Driving the news: During the debate, Vance accused Ryan of "slander" and said he's "disgusting" after the Democrat claimed his rival defended far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and suggested he backed "white replacement theory," Axios' Rebecca Falconer reports.

  • Ryan insisted Vance was "peddling" white replacement theory, saying, "J.D., you're on tape," and apparently referring to an appearance on Tucker Carlson's show in which Vance warned of immigrants "displacing America's workers."
  • And Ryan's campaign later posted a video of Vance defending his Sept. 5 tweet that read, "Alex Jones is a far more reputable source of information than Rachel Maddow."

Of note: "White replacement theory" — also known as "great replacement theory" — is a white nationalist far-right idea coined in 2011 by French writer Renaud Camus.

  • The conspiracy theory has become a more mainstream term that has strains of anti-Semitism, racism and anti-immigrant sentiment.

What they're saying: "Here's exactly what happens when the media and people like Tim Ryan accuse me of engaging in great replacement theory," said Vance, whose wife is Indian American.

  • "What happens is my own children — my biracial children — get attacked by scumbags online and in person, because you are so desperate for political power that you'll accuse me, the father of three beautiful biracial babies, of engaging in racism. We are sick of it," he added.
  • "You can believe in the border without being a racist."

The intrigue: Ryan said Monday he's "not sure why" retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) endorsed him.

Meanwhile, Vance's business background is influencing the election conversation, even though he hasn't made a habit of highlighting his career as a venture capitalist.

  • This is a departure from conventional campaign strategies for political novices who have spent most of their careers in the private sector. If successful, it could represent a new normal, Axios' Dan Primack reports.

Yes, but: Though Vance has not tried to hide his background per se, Ryan has tried to use it as ammunition by dubbing his opponent a "San Francisco vulture capitalist" in attack ads.

  • Ryan claimed Vance had "invested in China" in their first debate but could not name a company, likely because Vance has never backed a China-based company with venture capital funds, per Axios' review of the records.
  • Ryan was referring to two companies on Vance's financial disclosure forms that sourced some equipment and/or products from China.

Reminder: Early in-person and absentee voting is currently underway.


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