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Dying father implores Ohio voters to back Democrat Danny O'Connor

Health care activist Ady Barkan, diagnosed with ALS, asks Ohio voters to send Danny O’Connor to Congress to help stop Republican health care sabotage efforts.

By Dan Desai Martin - July 26, 2018
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Ady Barkan

In a powerful, emotional video, health care activist Ady Barkan implores voters in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District to support Democratic candidate Danny O’Connor in the August 7 special election.

“I was shocked when Republicans in Congress proposed a tax bill that would take away my health care to fund tax cuts for billionaires,” Barkan, who is terminally ill with ALS, says in the video.

Barkan discusses his journey to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress against the unpopular GOP tax scam, which also destabilized the U.S. health care market by repealing the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

But Congress didn’t listen to Barkan — and now, he says, “your family and my family are going to pay the price.”

Looking directly into the camera, Barkan asks voters in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District to “be a hero” by voting for Danny O’Connor.

“He’ll protect health care for my family and yours,” Barkan says.

Barkan fears that because the Republican tax scam added $2 trillion to the deficit by showering Wall Street billionaires with tax breaks, the GOP will use that deficit as an excuse to cut Medicare and Medicaid — “programs [Barkan] will depend on as his condition worsens,” according to HuffPost.

Barkan catapulted to the national spotlight when an airplane conversation between him and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) about health care, recorded by a fellow passenger who was on the same flight, went viral.

“You can be an American hero, you really can,” Barkan told Flake. “You’re halfway there. If the votes match the speech, think about the legacy that you will have for my son, and your grandchildren, if you take your principles and turn them into votes. You can save my life.”

Flake, like most Republicans, opted not to be a hero. He voted for the tax scam instead.

Despite his terminal illness, Barkan continues to fight to ensure everyone has access to quality health care.

In the Ohio special election, O’Connor has made health care one of the central pillars of his campaign.

“When I think of people who want to gut the Affordable Care Act and take away health care from people that have a pre-existing condition, I think of my mom,” O’Connnor says in one of his first campaign ads, which discusses the time his mother revealed that she had cancer. “I want a Congress that protects health care.”

His mother survived, but the ordeal has obviously stuck with O’Connor.

O’Connor’s position is in stark contrast to his Republican opponent, Troy Balderson.

As a state senator, Balderson voted to take health insurance away from 500,000 Ohioans. On his campaign website, Balderson declares he wants to “repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all.”

In 2016, Trump won this traditionally Republican district by 11 points. But in the Trump era, Republicans lost a Senate seat in deep-red Alabama and a congressional special election in a Republican area of Pennsylvania.

O’Connor is hoping to keep that streak alive come August 7.


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