BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – With campaigns for 2021 still weeks from wrapping up, the race for next year’s U.S. Senate seat in Ohio is already heating up.

Valley Congressman Tim Ryan spent the morning gathering support from local union leaders as he tries to flip the seat now held by Republican Rob Portman, who is retiring.

“One person from a place like the Mahoning Valley can really move the needle,” Ryan said from a campaign stop in Boardman at the Operating Engineers Hall.

Accompanying Ryan was Senator Sherrod Brown who this week endorsed Ryan for next year’s campaign.

“He’s got a public record where he put workers at the center of his agenda, you know, every day of his career, and that speaks, I think, to voters all across the political spectrum,” Brown said.

But the other candidate in next May’s Primary isn’t giving up.

“We cannot rely on career politicians to save us. They haven’t done it,” said Morgan Harper.

Columbus-area attorney, Democrat and community activist Morgan Harper said Ryan represents the past.

“Voters of this state are rejecting career politicians. We want people that are gonna get in Washington and fight to deliver real change for our communities,” Harper said.

Ryan insists that his record is what separates him from his challenger, however.

“We’ve been sloggin’ away here for 20 years, delivering for this community, got a long way to go, but a proven record of working to cut workers in on the deal,” Ryan said.

“So why I’m running, what our campaign is about is presenting voters with a new option. It is not the Tim Ryans of the past; it is a future,” Harper said.

It is a future both of the candidates hope will lead to victory.