Metro Weekly

Ohio Senate Candidate Invokes Lia Thomas in Attack on Trans Athletes

Jane Timken seizes on transgender athletes as the new wedge issue to rally conservative voters to her cause.

Ohio Senate candidate Jane Timken’s commercial invoking Lia Thomas – Photo: Jane Timken for Ohio, via YouTube.

Ohio Republican Senate candidate Jane Timken has invoked UPenn swimmer and NCAA 500-freestyle champion Lia Thomas in a campaign ad attacking transgender participation in female-designated sports.

Timken blames Democrats and President Biden for NCAA rules that allow transgender females to compete on women’s sports teams in her most recent campaign commercial, reports The Hill. Timken is facing six other candidates, including J.D. Vance, a self-styled populist and venture capitalist and the author of Hillbilly Elegy, and Josh Mandel, the former Ohio state treasurer and two-time U.S. Senate candidate who is back for his third run.

Given Vance and Mandel’s previous appeals to social conservatives by attacking the transgender and two-spirit communities, Timken is hoping the ad gains traction and allows her to consolidate Republican primary voters behind her campaign.

Thomas, who previously competed for UPenn’s men’s swimming team during her first three years in college, has become a favorite target of conservatives, who balk at the idea that she was allowed to compete in women’s swimming after having received hormone therapy for two-and-a-half years. (Under NCAA rules, trans women are able to compete after finishing a year of hormone therapy.)

As a result, Republicans have used Thomas as a symbol of the excesses and consequences of  “woke” culture, including the embrace of transgender rights, in the hope that their message will resonate with voters and assist them in regaining control of Congress.

Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis even said he would not recognize Thomas’s win, instead dubbing second-place finisher and University of Virginia swimmer Emma Weyant, who is originally from Florida, as the “rightful winner.”

A shrewd politician who’s never one to miss out on an opportunity for self-promotion, Timken, the third of three frontrunners in the GOP field and who heretofore was viewed as the more “establishment” figure, pounces on the timely issue in her campaign commercial.

“As a mom and former college athlete, I know how important women’s sports are,” Timken intones. “They teach our girls to be winners.

“But the Biden Democrats want to force our daughters to compete against men in the pool and on the court,” she says, as footage of Thomas flashes on screen. “It’s outrageous. From ruining girls’ sports to critical race theory, the liberals are trying to destroy our country. I’m Jane Timken. I approve this message because it’s time to fight back.”

The 30-second spot, which first began airing on Monday, is part of a seven-figure ad buy for Timken in the Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Dayton market, and will also air on Fox News in Youngstown.

However, The Hill also notes that Timken’s record as a culture warrior may be spotty, as some critics have pointed out that she appeared to support pro-transgender policies in the past.

According to The Buckeye Flame, an Ohio-based LGBTQ publication, when she was chair of the Kent State University Board of Trustees, Timken voted to revise the university’s policy to protect transgender people from discrimination, and served on the board at the same time the university opened its LGBTQ center.

Since running for public office, however, Timken has fallen in line with GOP orthodoxy, opposing the Equality Act, a national bill to prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community, by claiming it infringes on the rights of people opposed to LGBTQ equality.

“While I’m a Christian and don’t believe in discrimination, I believe this is fundamentally an attack on religion,” she said during a forum held by the Center for Christian Virtue last October.

Two months later, she released an education plan focusing on the GOP’s new favorite buzzword: “parental rights.”

Under the plan, parents would have a right to be notified of any changes in education, provide affirmative consent before their children are subjected to lessons dealing with sex education, gender theory, or “other beliefs that should begin in the home,” demand that their children receive in-person learning, and voice their opinions at school board meetings (ostensibly regardless of whether they become violent).

The plan also defunds efforts to teach “critical race theory,” demands that schools be transparent in the decisions they make, and bars transgender athletes from competing in female-designated sports.

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