U.S. Senate hopeful Jane Timken visited Athens campaign workers on Saturday as part of a larger trek across the state to discuss her “America first” agenda.
Timken, the former Ohio Republican Party Chair, is one of 12 Republicans — including former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and "Hillbilly Elegy" author J. D. Vance — hoping to win the May 2022 primary and advance to the general election a year from now. Ohio will have an open Senate seat because Sen. Rob Portman will not run for a third term.
On Saturday, Timken traveled from Columbus to Athens to Cincinnati as part of a "day of action" for volunteers to canvass in person and by phone to discuss Timken's agenda with potential voters. In Athens, those volunteers were members of the Ohio University College Republicans.
“I have spent the past five years fighting for an America first agenda,” Timken said, adding she helped deliver former President Donald Trump an eight-point margin of victory in Ohio.
When Trump was president, “we had a strong and prosperous America," and now President Joe Biden is damaging the U.S. economy, she said.
“When I think about your future, that’s why I am in this fight,” Timken said to the students. “We have to stop the woke socialist agenda. I’m sure you fight these battles every day on campus.”
Timken claimed that the First and Second amendments — guaranteeing freedom of speech and the right to bear arms — were “under attack.”
“And really it’s about the future of our country and — we’re at a crossroads," told the volunteers. "Are we going to be a country that allows for the American dream for people to prosper, to live life the way they want to, to say the things they believe in? Or are we going to be under attack in a socialist country?”
In a post-rally interview, Timken said she would expand the southeast Ohio economy by working at the federal level to implement workforce development programs for blue collar labor. One of her proposals is a federal program that would give businesses a tax credit for training and hiring workers.
Timken also said areas like southeast Ohio need to have expanded access to broadband to be economically viable for businesses in the region. She pointed to the $1 trillion infrastructure package currently before U.S. Congress, which includes funding for roads, bridges and broadband.
In Athens County and more broadly throughout southeast Ohio, broadband expansion has been a bipartisan issue. In June, the Ohio House passed a broadband expansion bill, sponsored by Brian Stewart, R-Asheville, who represents Hocking County.
Timken said it is time to start viewing broadband internet access as “common sense” infrastructure like electricity, roads and bridges.
“I’m a fiscal conservative, but I support targeted taxpayer dollars to pay for things like roads, bridges and broadband,” Timken said. “When you come down here (to Athens County), you barely have any cell service, which means we can’t have businesses move to the area, we can’t have students learn remotely.”
On the other hand, Timken said if she were a senator, she would vote no on the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill scheduled for a Congressional vote this week. The massive bill includes funding provisions that would expand education, health care and childcare support, and address the climate crisis. She described the contents of the bill as “pet, Democrat” proposals.
OUCR President Brad Kennedy, an senior majoring in economics, said the group was backing Timken over other candidates like Mandel or Vance because of her “track record.”
“You have all these other candidates who are talking about what they want to do, but Jane’s the only one that has a track record to back up the words she puts out,” Kennedy said.
According to her Ballotpedia biography, Timken graduated from Harvard University and earned her law degree at American University. She was an associate with a Canton law firm and served as a magistrate in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas from 2000 to 2007. The former vice chair of the Stark County Republican Party, Timken was elected head of the state party in 2017; she resigned the post in February 2021 to run for Portman's seat.
Timken isn't the first Senate hopeful to visit Athens County: Democrat Tim Ryan, U.S. Representative for Ohio's 13th District, spent a day in the county in August. Ryan's visit included stops at The Hive in Nelsonville, Baileys Trail and the Athens County Food Pantry outside Chauncey and the Armory in Uptown Athens.
This story was updated Sept. 29 to correct the name of the Athens County Food Pantry.