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In this file photo, Congressman Rob Portman (R-Ohio) speaks during a ceremony in which President George W. Bush nominated him to be the next U.S. Trade Representative during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room Thursday, March 17, 2005. (Image courtesy of White House)

Coal miners PAC backs Portman over Strickland for US Senate

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A coal miners’ union influential in Appalachian Ohio is backing Republican Rob Portman over rival Ted Strickland in the closely watched contest for U.S. Senate.

The announcement Thursday by the United Mine Workers of America’s National Council of Coal Miners PAC comes as a political blow to Strickland. The Democrat is a former governor and congressman native to eastern Ohio whose strong relationships with labor have helped him win elections.

Strickland also is tied to presidential contender Hillary Clinton, who alienated coal miners in March when she said “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Clinton later said she misspoke.

Strickland’s campaign released statements Thursday from local leaders in Appalachia touting his roots there and history of supporting area mineworkers.

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