COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Three Democrats are vying for a spot on Capitol Hill — and hoping a blue wave will secure the Buckeye State a second Democratic seat in the U.S. Senate.

A 20-year left-of-center Congressman, a progressive Columbus consumer protection attorney, and an information technology executive are competing to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate, attempting to stand out to Ohio voters during the May 3 primary election.

A University of Akron poll released on March 15 had Tim Ryan with 38.2% of support from respondents, compared with Morgan Harper’s 14%. Traci Johnson is lumped under the “Others” tab – taking 4.1% of the vote along with other candidates. However, 36.9% of respondents remain undecided.

More details about the Ohio Democratic Senate debate held on March 27 can be found here. Here’s a look at who’s running on the Democratic ticket for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat:

Tim Ryan

Leading the pack with 47% of polling support is Congressman Tim Ryan, 47, of Howland, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 2002 and has represented Ohio’s 13th congressional district since 2013.

Ryan, who launched an unsuccessful bid for president in 2020, secured endorsements for the coveted Senate seat from a slew of high-profile Democratic stakeholders, including Sen. Sherrod Brown and the Ohio Democratic Party.

The former Ohio State Senator is running on a blue-collar platform, hoping to persuade workers across Ohio’s 88 counties that his support for a $15 minimum wage, expansion of union protections, and opposition to what he called “harmful trade policies,” like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), qualifies him as the candidate for the working class.

Ryan called on Ohio to lead the charge in a new industrial age – this time with clean energy industries like wind and solar power and charging stations for electric vehicles, which he called the “industries of the future,” according to his campaign website.

And, in another plea to working-class Americans, Ryan touted his introduction of the “Build America, Buy America” bill in the House to require the use of American-made products in federal infrastructure projects.

As chairperson of the committee that oversees the Capitol Police Department and is investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, Ryan accused former President Donald Trump and his supporters of holding a “dagger at the throat of America.”

While Ryan advocated for streamlining the immigration process and providing a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the U.S., Ryan pledged to adequately fund law enforcement agencies to secure the border and “keep out terrorists and criminals and prevent the spread of fentanyl and other deadly drugs,” his campaign website reads.

He also co-sponsored the Equality Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, called for providing two years of tuition-free community college, and advocated for lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60.

Ryan leads his Democratic candidates when it comes to cash in the bank, with about $12.6 million in total campaign contributions.

For more information about Ryan’s campaign, visit his website.

Morgan Harper

Challenging Ryan from the left is 38-year-old Morgan Harper, a progressive U.S. Senate candidate from Columbus who’s tried to distance herself from “career politicians” like Ryan.

Harper, adopted by an immigrant mother and raised in Columbus, ran and lost with 32% of the vote against incumbent Congresswoman Joyce Beatty in the 2020 campaign to represent Ohio’s 3rd congressional district in the U.S. House.

In a nod to her grassroots-powered and anti-establishment campaign, Harper has refused to accept PAC donations – a stark contrast from both of her Democratic primary opponents.

A former senior advisor at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and policy director for the American Economic Liberties Project, Harper has pledged to dismantle corporate monopolies, like big agriculture and big pharmaceuticals, which she said are stifling the ability of workers and small businesses to earn a living wage.

Harper also touted her support for the Green New Deal to combat climate change, debt-free public education, Medicare for All, and affordable, high-quality pre-K for all of Ohio’s children, according to her campaign website.

During a January debate against Republican contender Josh Mandel, Harper largely agreed with her Trump-supporting opponent on one issue: the use of cryptocurrency is one way to democratize money in the U.S.

While acknowledging the need to analyze the potential environmental and cybersecurity issues that could arise from the large-scale use of cryptocurrency, she argued that digital currency is helping Ohioans make their mortgage payments.

Harper has attacked Ryan over his prior history of voting for pro-life legislation, including statements he made in 2009 that healthcare reform should not provide funding for abortions. While her opponent reversed his stance in 2015, Harper maintains that she’s always supported a woman’s right to choose.

How to pay for her plans? Harper said on her website: “Close tax loopholes. Avoid endless wars.”

Just days ago, Harper came under fire after she appeared – allegedly without permission – at a student-led protest at Darby High School against House Bill 616, which opponents say mirrors Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Hilliard City Schools filed a police report against the candidate, claiming that her appearance marked an unauthorized visit on campus grounds.

She trails Ryan by about $10 million in campaign contributions, raking in $1.2 million for her congressional campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission.

For more information about Harper’s campaign, visit her website.

Traci Johnson

From careers at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to a private information technology company, Democratic contender Traci Johnson seeks to convince voters that she can bring both public and private sector knowledge to the U.S. Senate.

Johnson, currently president of the Dublin-based IT firm Tra’Bian Enterprises, is a longtime Democratic party volunteer and leader – including serving three terms as president of the Franklin County Democratic Women’s Club.

Born in Toledo to a Head Start teacher, Johnson pledged to secure adequate funding for Ohio’s schools and promote students’ access to “first-rate technology.”

Johnson pledged to provide students in the U.S. with a two-year grace period on student loans, increase zero-interest loans and establish fixed-rate loans at 5% or less, citing the student debt crisis causing the average student to graduate with $40,000 to $80,000 of debt, according to her campaign website.

As a former NARAL PAC President, Johnson said that if elected, she will fight to restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood and counter attacks against the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the U.S.

She also called for affordable Wi-Fi and broadband, combating voter suppression by supporting the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in Congress and strengthening laws to protect the LGBTQ community, her website reads.

Information about Johnson’s campaign contributions could not immediately be located online.

For more information about Johnson’s campaign, visit her website.

Previewing the major races in Ohio’s May primary election

The week of April 17, is running a series of previewing races

  • Monday: U.S. House races for central Ohio
  • Tuesday: Democrats running for U.S. Senate
  • Wednesday: Republicans running for U.S. Senate
  • Thursday: Democrats running for governor
  • Friday: Republicans running for governor