U.S. Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) spurred a firestorm of Republican reprehension this week after he declared himself unable to attend House proceedings “due to the ongoing public emergency” and then went to Los Angeles, California for a fundraiser.

Ryan reportedly traveled to the Hollywood home of Jay Sures, currently the vice chair of United Talent Agency, for a campaign event expected to bring $100,000 into the congressman’s coffers. The candidate, who faces Republican attorney, venture capitalist, and author J.D. Vance on November 8, permitted Representative Madeleine Dean (D-PA-04) to cast proxy votes in his absence. Later on, Ryan’s agenda during his Golden State visit was a Thursday morning event featuring numerous Hollywood celebrities, including actors Brian Tyler Cohen and Howie Mandel. 

Vance’s campaign castigated the Youngstown-area congressman for seemingly claiming the once rapidly spreading and now endemic COVID-19 virus as a reason he cannot be in Washington, D.C. 

“Tim Ryan claimed he skipped work today ‘due to the ongoing public health emergency,’” Vance Press Secretary Luke Schroeder tweeted. “He’s actually headed to California to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from Hollywood elites.”

Other conservatives were similarly critical. 

“Tim Ryan has so little respect for his constituents in Ohio that not only does he routinely refuse to show up for work, he lies about why he’s not showing up, and then turns around and attends a fundraiser with his liberal friends in Hollywood instead,” GOP political strategist Andrew Surabian complained via Twitter. 

Republicans found Ryan’s campaign junket particularly galling in light of the congressman’s frequent criticism of Vance for having briefly worked in California and seeking support from wealthy Golden Staters, implying Vance isn’t an authentic Ohioan. 

“My GOP opponent JD Vance doesn’t care about Ohio workers,” Ryan tweeted in May. “He’s more interested in schmoozing California billionaires and impressing at Washington D.C. cocktail parties.” 

Ryan’s campaign did not return an email seeking comment.

The race between the two candidates has been tight throughout the race. A recent Siena College poll found Ryan with the support of 46 percent of likely voters versus 43 percent who back Vance. The data aggregator FiveThirtyEight calculates that the various polls that have lately been conducted altogether signal a virtual dead heat, with both candidates getting about 45 percent. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Tim Ryan” by Tim Ryan.