Ohio: Ground Zero for Senate Control

100% Pro-Life Sen. Rob Portman faces off against pro-abortion former Gov. Ted Strickland.

By Andrew Bair

Senator Rob Portman, who holds a 100% rating with National Right to Life, will face pro-abortion former Governor Ted Strickland.

Pro-life Sen. Rob Portman and Pro-abortion former Gov. Ted Strickland.

As always, Ohio is ground zero for the 2016 elections. Not only will the Buckeye State play a key role in determining the outcome of the presidential race but it may decide which party controls the United States Senate come January.

Republican Senator Rob Portman, who holds a 100% rating with National Right to Life, will face pro-abortion former Governor Ted Strickland.

On Wednesday, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, enthusiastically endorsed Strickland. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards tweeted, “So proud that @PPact has endorsed @Ted_Strickland to be the next US Senator from Ohio!

Strickland replied that he was “honored” to be endorsed by the abortion provider and vowed to “stand up to attacks on reproductive healthcare.”

By stark contrast, Portman voted in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would protect unborn babies from abortions after 20 weeks, a point by which science shows they have the capacity to experience pain. He is also a cosponsor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would enact an explicit requirement that a baby born alive during an abortion must be afforded “the same degree” of care that would apply “to any other child born alive at the same gestational age,” including transportation to a hospital.

Portman also voted to redirect federal funds from Planned Parenthood. Portman told Fox News host Neil Cavuto, “Taxpayer dollars should not be going to Planned Parenthood. I think our legislation makes a lot of sense. It says, not only do you not send taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, but those tax dollars instead go to community health centers — there are a lot more of them than Planned Parenthood clinics; eight times more in the state of Ohio for instance — and they can provide the women’s health needs that are legitimate, that are needed.”

Earlier this year, Strickland came to Planned Parenthood’s defense when state lawmakers passed legislation to deny state funding to the abortion provider. Ironically, he claimed in a statement that Planned Parenthood clinics in Ohio are “providing vital, life-saving healthcare services.” Nowhere in his statement did he mention Planned Parenthood’s number one money-maker: abortion, the “service” that violently ends the lives of unborn babies through a variety of methods including brutal dismemberment.

A huge issue in Senate races across the country is the future of the United States Supreme Court. The Ohio race is no different. In Strickland, abortion advocates are assured they will receive a vote for a pro-abortion justice. Strickland campaign spokesman David Bergstein says his candidate “would not support a nominee who opposes a woman’s right to choice.”

Strickland has called for the confirmation of Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Portman is standing strong with other Senate Republicans to the position that the replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia should be nominated by the President elected in the November presidential election. Portman told Ohio reporters, “We should let the people decide. This is not about the person, it’s about the principle.”

A Public Policy Polling survey of nearly 800 registered voters taken at the end of April found the race to be a dead heat with both candidates earning 38%.

Rothenburg & Gonzalez Political Report currently rates the contest Tossup/Tilt Republican, giving a slight edge to Sen. Portman.