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FIRST ON FOX: A new TV commercial in Ohio’s high-profile Senate showdown by Democratic nominee Rep. Tim Ryan targets rival J.D. Vance over a non-profit organization the now-Republican nominee set up five years ago that partially aimed to help Ohioans hard hit by the opioid crisis.

“When JD Vance moved back to Ohio, he told us his new non-profit would help fix our state’s opioid crisis,” says the narrator in the Ryan ad, which was shared first with Fox News on Tuesday. “But he failed to fund a single addiction program.”

Ryan, a longtime congressman from northeast Ohio, and Vance, a former hedge fund executive and best-selling author, are running to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman in a race that’s one of a handful across the country that could determine whether Republicans win back the Senate majority.

The spot charges that Vance “funneled tens of thousands” raised by the nonprofit, Our Ohio Renewal, “to his top political adviser and paid tens of thousands for political polling,” and that “Vance did nothing to help Ohio, but did everything to help his political career.”

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And the narrator in the commercial, pointing to a Business Insider investigation from last year, says “an independent expert called the non-profit a ‘charade.’”

Ryan’s political team tells Fox News the ad will start running statewide on TV starting on Tuesday and is part of the campaign’s ongoing eight-figure ad buy.

Vance set up the non-profit in 2017 following his move back to Ohio after living and working in California. The move came a year after Vance’s book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis” became a bestseller.

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“The success of the book has given me the flexibility, but also I think the platform to talk about some of the issues that are most important to me. And so what I’m going to do is start a small nonprofit that’s going to focus on a couple of issues that are a special concern to me and I think will be pretty familiar to those who’ve read the book,” Vance said in an interview with NPR at the time. 

Senate candidate JD Vance, left, greets former President Donald Trump at a rally at the Delaware County Fairground, April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio. (AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File)
(AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File)

Asked an interview with the Logan Daily News last September about Our Ohio Renewal, Vance said we do a number of small grants and funds and projects here and there, but it’s not a large organization; we don’t have a huge budget. And so, yeah, obviously as the Senate campaign ramps up we’re doing less and less with the nonprofit.”

Responding to the new ad, Vance campaign communications director Taylor Van Kirk charged in a statement to Fox News that “while he tried to find a scapegoat in JD for his own failures, Tim Ryan spent the last 20 years in Washington refusing to solve the opioid epidemic, instead pushing Joe Biden’s radical agenda that has made these devastated communities poorer and has stripped them of any possible reprieve.”

Ryan, who’s championed the working class during his many years in Congress and during his unsuccessful 2020 White House run, handily bested two lesser-known rivals to win the May 3 Democratic Senate primary election in Ohio.

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Vance had a much more difficult path to victory in a crowded and brutal GOP showdown for the party’s nomination

Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Vance less than three weeks before the primary catapulted the candidate to victory over a handful of Republican rivals who also sought the former president’s backing. Vance ran a populist primary campaign that spotlighted his support for Trump’s America First agenda.

Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan answers a question during a primary debate on Monday, March 28, 2022 at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. (Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, Pool)

Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan answers a question during a primary debate on Monday, March 28, 2022 at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. (Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, Pool)
(Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

A Suffolk University poll for USA Today conducted in late May indicated Vance holding a razor-thin margin over Ryan, but more recent surveys suggest Ryan with a single digit advantage. In another crucial campaign metric, Ryan dramatically out raised Vance during the April-June second quarter of 2022 fundraising.

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Ohio was once a top general election battleground state, but Trump won it by eight points in both his 2016 White House victory and in his 2020 re-election defeat.

And the GOP’s controlled the state’s governorship for all but four years during the past three decades. A recent statewide exception was progressive Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s nearly seven-point re-election victory in 2018.

 

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