Portman Ad Focuses on Drug Epidemic in Ohio

Portman Ad Focuses on Drug Epidemic in Ohio
AP Photo/John Minchillo, File
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Sen. Rob Portman’s re-election campaign released a new television ad Thursday highlighting his work fighting the heroin and prescription drug epidemic in Ohio.

The ad focuses on Tonda DaRe and her 21-year-old daughter, Holly, who died from a heroin overdose in 2012. DaRe speaks directly to the camera about losing her daughter and about the work Portman has done to address the crisis.

“We lost 129 kids a day to heroin and the only person that I’ve seen standing up there screaming almost daily is Sen. Portman,” DaRe says in the ad. “He gives as much time and energy and love to this as any of us parents who have lost. He truly listens and tries to implement plans that make a difference.”

The Portman campaign spent $1.1 million to broadcast the ad statewide for the next two weeks. It’s the fourth TV spot released in the past month that highlights the Republican senator’s efforts to combat the drug problem.

DaRe praises Portman’s legislation, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, as an “important step” that “will save lives.” This isn’t the first time she has spoken on behalf of the bill. She testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, telling the story of her daughter’s addiction and death. Holly died instantly from a batch of heroin that was three times more potent than she had previously used – one of 13 heroin overdose deaths in her Ohio county in a 24-hour period.

Portman’s legislation, which would provide state grants for treatment, prevention and education efforts, passed the Senate earlier this year by a 94-1 vote. The Senate and House are currently working to iron out differences in their approaches to the crisis and Portman has been actively pushing to get a bill to the president’s desk.

The drug epidemic is a critical issue in the Ohio Senate election between Portman and former Gov. Ted Strickland. There were fewer than 1,500 drug deaths in the state in 2008 according to the Columbus Dispatch, but more than 2,700 in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Portman and Strickland have sparred over their past efforts to fight drug abuse problems in the state, and the issue is likely to be critically important to voters there in November.

Portman’s re-election bid against Strickland is one of the most competitive and important races in the nation this year. Republicans hold a four-seat majority in the chamber but are defending 24 seats to Democrats’ 10, including seven states, including Ohio, that President Obama won twice. Public polls show this race as neck and neck, with Strickland holding a half-point lead in the RealClearPolitics average.

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at jarkin@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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