COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Sen. Rob Portman Saturday touted what he said is an unmatched ground game for Ohio GOP Senate candidate Jane Timken days before the primary, arguing undecideds could turn the tide of the race.
“She’s got a secret weapon that no one’s talking about much in the media which is that she’s doing an enormous amount of grassroots,” Portman, R-Ohio, told Fox News. “She has knocked on more doors – not personally, but her volunteers have, she’s knocked on a bunch of them herself – and made more phone calls than all the other… campaigns combined.”
That grassroots enthusiasm was on display at the Friday event Portman participated in at Timken’s campaign headquarters in Columbus. Approximately 50 close supporters, campaign members and volunteers gathered for what resembled a pep rally, with enthusiastic speeches from Portman and Timken.
Ohio Senate candidate Jane Timken addresses supporters with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, on April 30, 2022, in Columbus, (Tyler Olson/Fox News)
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“What time is it?” Portman shouted to the crowd.
“Timken time,” they responded.
The event contrasted with rallies other candidates are holding across the state where many voters in attendance are undecided, looking to hear from a candidate before they make their decision.
But according to Timken, it’s the voters who her campaign reaches at their front doors and over the phone who may put her over the top.
“We’re not stopping and I was out knocking doors today,” Timken told Fox News. “We’re out all over Ohio. We’ve talked to almost 1.5 million Republican primary voters knocking doors and making phone calls… We’re gonna run through the tape till the polls close on May 3.”
Numbers back up the idea that there are many persuadable voters still out there, according to Portman.
Sen. Rob Portman R-Ohio, and Ohio GOP Senate candidate Jane Timken pose with volunteers at Timken’s campaign headquarters on April 30, 2022. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)
“If you look at the early voting in Ohio and the absentee voting, it’s extremely low this year, which to me is an indication of two things. One, we have relatively low turnout overall. But second, a lot of people are still wondering, you know, who they should be for,” he said. “I haven’t seen a poll out that it didn’t have at least 25% undecided.”
A recent Fox News Poll found exactly a quarter of voters undecided – more than even the percent of voters who favored Vance, who led in that survey.
Also going for her, Timken is backed by more than 200 Ohio elected officials and has high profile national GOP endorsements in House GOP Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Senate GOP Conference Vice Chair Joni Ernst, R-Iowa
Nevertheless, Timken faces a tall task if she’s going to win in this race.
She’s struggled to crack the top three in most polls of the GOP race, with investment banker Mike Gibbons and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel leading in recent months, with state Sen. Matt Dolan coming on lately. Timken’s campaign also took a serious blow when former President Donald Trump, whose endorsement she aggressively courted, picked opponent J.D. Vance instead, catapulting him to the drivers seat of the race.
A supporter of Ohio GOP Senate candidate Jane Timken waves to her as she walks out to address volunteers at a rally with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, at her campaign headquarters in Columbus, on April 30, 2022. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)
Timken and other non-Vance candidates argue that most Ohio voters are still suspicious of Vance, who was highly critical of Trump in 2016, despite the endorsement.
“They are skeptical. We see it every day. I hear from voters every day,” Timken said of what she hears from voters about Vance. “Obviously J.D. Vance not only said some derogatory comments about President Trump but more importantly he said derogatory comments about the Trump voter.”
And with her sprawling team of volunteers, whose T-shirts are emblazoned with Trump’s name as well as hers, Timken says she can still come out on top on primary night.
“I played rugby in college. No pads, no helmets and lots of mud. I’m ready for Washington D.C., and I’m ready to tackle the Democrats. So lets’ go win this and with all of your help we will,” Timken said.
Fox News’ Mark Meredith contributed to this report.