Some northeast Ohio voters claim Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman is hiding from them.
At a town hall meeting at St. James A.M.E. Church in Cleveland on Thursday, liberal activist Suzy Scullin with the group Indivisible CLE said Portman is afraid to talk to people like her in person.
“Fear is the only reason that Rob Portman is not standing in this room tonight and instead we had to settle for a cardboard cutout of our Senator,” Scullin said.
Scullin literally preached to the choir, and hundreds of them, who had a wide range of concerns.
“We have people in need of healthcare and all kinds of other issues,” Charniece Holmes said, “And he needs to be the representative that we elected him to be.”
“I am $100,000 in student loan debt with no way out,” Sunny Matthews said, "That’s a problem and it prevents me from doing a lot of things I want to do. I can’t buy a house. You need to address those issues.”
But even though Portman was the clear focus for an attack, Democrat Sherrod Brown was also missing. Organizers said they invited him too.
“They didn’t show up,” Ethan Goodman with Indivisible CLE said, "They didn’t answer, so it’s not just a partisan issue.”
When reached for comment, spokespeople for both Senators said they were holding a variety of events with constituents while on recess. On Friday, Portman was scheduled to hold a roundtable discussion with business leaders in Cleveland.
Still, those events have largely not been open to the public. And with D.C. firmly in control of Republicans, Thursday night’s left-leaning crowd said it’s time they raised their voices.
“How can you express what we need,” Matthews asked, “If you don’t talk to us?”