Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) received support Tuesday for his reelection bid from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, a grassroots organization working to support the state’s farm and food community.
The organization, which boasts more than 200,000 members, designated Portman a "friend of agriculture" on Tuesday, after a flurry of labor unions have formally backed Portman over his challenger, Democrat and former Gov. Ted Strickland.
Strickland’s campaign has publicized his efforts to engage with the Ohio Farm Bureau, promoting photos on social media showing the Democrat meeting with members of the group. Strickland also appeared on the Ohio Farm Bureau’s radio program in April to discuss agricultural issues.
— Ted Strickland (@Ted_Strickland) April 5, 2016
— Liz Margolis (@lizmargolis) April 5, 2016
— Ted Strickland (@Ted_Strickland) August 3, 2016
The president of the Ohio Farm Bureau, Frank Burkett, stressed Portman’s commitment to issues of the agricultural community in a statement.
"Senator Portman has demonstrated consistent and unwavering support of Ohio Farm Bureau’s priority issues as well as issues important to the entire agricultural community and we are proud and excited to designate him as a Friend of Agriculture," Burkett stated, according to a release circulated by Portman’s campaign on Tuesday afternoon.
Portman helped pass a major farm bill in 2014 that contained fiscal reforms while continuing to provide support for agricultural communities, in addition to supporting other legislative efforts to help Ohio farmers.
Portman has also received endorsements from several labor unions, including the United Mine Workers for America, that have a history of supporting Strickland in his bids for elected office. Strickland was seen meeting with members of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, the state’s largest law enforcement union, one day before the union endorsed his competitor last month.
Polls tracking the Ohio senate race, one of the most contested in the 2016 election cycle, have increasingly shown Portman in the lead. A Monmouth University poll released on Monday showed Portman with an 8-point lead over Strickland. Ohio voters have more confidence in Portman to represent the interests of workers in the state, the survey showed.