Ohio status changed to 'toss-up'

Jessica Wehrman of our Washington Bureau has a story today about one of the hottest Senate races in the country. A year ago, Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman might have been considered a safe bet to win re-election to a second six-year term. No more. The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics Thursday changed Ohio’s upcoming U.S. Senate race from “leans Republican” to “toss-up.”

Explaining the change, they say that while Sen. Rob Portman is a “skilled, well-funded incumbent,” “he does not have the built-in statewide name ID and persona that his two predecessors in this seat possessed.” Democratic former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, they write “has to be delighted with the presidential outlook so far: Strickland’s friend and ally Hillary Clinton is well on her way to securing the Democratic nomination, while the Republicans…appear likely to nominate someone out of the mainstream.”

They say that Strickland may receive some crossover vote in Appalachia, which overwhelmingly supported billionaire Donald Trump during the GOP presidential primary.

The ranking change comes hours after the Portman for Senate campaign launched a new website aimed at bashing former  Strickland’s record on China.

The site, WeakOnChina.com, went live last night. The campaign also released a web ad attacking Strickland on China.

The Portman campaign is capitalizing on Strickland’s two votes to give China “Most Favored Nation” status when he was a congressman from southern Ohio. They’re also hitting him for opening a trade office in Beijing.

Portman, a Republican, is seeking a second term in the U.S. Senate.

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