Despite a favorable electoral climate for Republicans and former Rep. Rob Portman’s huge funding advantage over his Democratic opponent in the contest for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat, polls show the race in a dead heat.
Conservatives and “tea party” activists say Mr. Portman’s record as a moderate Republican has failed to fire up not only core GOP voters but also what may prove just as important to victory – the “tea party” movement. Complicating the picture is the failure of that movement to meet expectations in some of the May 4 Ohio GOP primary elections.
Mr. Portman’s resume, though extensive, has elements that raise red flags for conservatives – his service in the White House of President George H.W. Bush, who raised taxes and enlarged government; his election to six terms in the U.S. House, where he voted for the kind of spending that tea party supporters oppose; and his service as U.S. trade representative and then budget director in the big-spending George W. Bush administration.