WASHINGTON, D.C. — As President Joe Biden tries to convince members of his own party to come together to pass his two-pronged, multi-trillion-dollar plan for infrastructure, the two Democrats running for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat agree it’s needed to help their campaigns.

What You Need To Know

  • The two Democrats in Ohio’s U.S. Senate race consider passing Biden’s infrastructure agenda as crucial to their campaigns succeeding

  • While Democrats in Congress deal with divides over it, Tim Ryan and Morgan Harper support it

  • Both candidates said Ohioans they speak with seem receptive to the multi-trillion-dollar investments being proposed

  • Ohio political scientist David Cohen said the delays could end up helping Ryan and Harper

Northeast Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Morgan Harper, a progressive attorney, are the two Democrats hoping to succeed retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman next year.

They both are convinced that Biden’s infrastructure agenda — a $1 trillion roads and bridges infrastructure package and a separate social spending plan that could be worth as much as $3.5 trillion — will help them flip Ohio blue.

“I'm talking about this everywhere I go,” Ryan told Spectrum News. “I think every Ohioan that hears about this will recognize that this is needed.”

Harper made similar comments in a separate interview.

“The people in Ohio that I'm talking to understand how much this could benefit them,” she said.

But the agenda is currently stalled because Democrats in Congress disagree over what order it should be voted in and how much the social spending plan should end up being worth.

Biden and most Democrats have called for a $3.5 trillion package that would fund universal preschool, free community college, care for the elderly and more. But moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona want a much smaller plan, closer to $1.5 trillion.

Ryan and Harper each said they view something as better than nothing.

“If it's not as big as I want it to be, I'll still be down with it because it's something that is so necessary,” Ryan said.

Harper added: “We have to show people that Democrats can deliver. That's the only way that we're going to be able to keep our state from going deeper into this GOP domination that is hurting us.”

The two Democrats made clear that they view getting Biden’s agenda passed as necessary for their campaigns to succeed.

Ohio political scientist David Cohen, a professor at the University of Akron, said continued delays on Capitol Hill could even end up helping Ryan and Harper, if the policy proposals remain as popular as public polling indicates they are.

“They can certainly spin this to an argument of here's why we need even more Democrats in the U.S. Senate, so we don't have to rely on the Manchin’s and the Sinema’s,” Cohen told Spectrum News.

If Democrats can’t find consensus, though, Cohen said that could hurt them in next year’s midterm elections.

But for now, he said it’s helpful that Democrats are at least debating policy while the crowded Ohio Republican Senate field is focused more on personal attacks.

“I think if it remains that way, I think that's a real benefit for Democrats, whereas the Republican candidates have pulled out the brass knuckles on each other,” Cohen said.