African American Religious Leaders Back Rob Portman for Senate

Rob Portman in 2012 / AP
Rob Portman in 2012 / AP

Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) on Monday was endorsed for reelection by 28 African American religious leaders, including some Democrats who formerly supported his challenger, Ted Strickland.

The Portman campaign announced the endorsements ahead of a luncheon in Columbus on Monday. Portman has hosted more than 10 discussions with African American leaders in Ohio and has been advised by his campaign’s African American Leadership Council on issues facing the state’s urban community.

Several African American leaders on Monday emphasized that Portman has delivered results for Ohio communities during his time in government, citing his work to boost jobs creation and stop the heroin epidemic plaguing the state and other areas of the country.

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"I supported Ted Strickland when he ran for governor, and I’ve supported President Obama both times he ran for president," Bishop Randal Burton of the Word of Life Ministry Christian Center said in a statement. "I’m supporting Rob Portman this year because he is getting things done for the people of Ohio."

"I’m a lifelong Democrat, but Rob Portman has a record of delivering results for Ohio families. He has been a strong leader on creating jobs and opportunity, and his work on reentry efforts is helping Ohioans live up to their God-given potential," Pastor Ronald Turner of the New Inspiration Baptist Church of God in Christ stated.

Portman has received a series of high-profile endorsements, including those from influential labor unions that have historically endorsed Strickland in past political contests. These include the United Mine Workers of America, a coal miners union, and the 50,000-member Ohio Conference of Teamsters.

In recent months, Portman has expanded his edge over his competitor in the key battleground race. Portman currently leads Strickland by about 13 percentage points, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls of the Ohio Senate race.

Democratic groups have increasingly pulled advertisement buys from the state as polls have showed Portman winning the race.