Tough Case in Tough Year: Tim Ryan looks to weather the Democratic headwind in Ohio 2022-04-30 15:37:48


“The perception of the party is a lot different now than it was when I started,” Ryan said candidly in an interview.

Ryan is the presumptive Democratic nominee for the Ohio Senate, and is sure to win his party’s primary on Tuesday against Morgan Harper, a lawyer and former senior advisor at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While the Republican race is a lot murkier – Author J.D. Vance He’s seen as the frontrunner after winning the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, but a handful of candidates are vying for the annoyance – Ryan prepares to take on a significantly more difficult task in November: Run as a Democrat In the case of the red trend in the election cycle potentially difficult for the party.

For years, Ohio Democrats have sought to reassure National Party officials that the state is not a lost cause, but election after election has complicated that degree. No Democrat other than Senator Sherrod Brown has won a nonjudicial statewide office in Ohio since 2008, and President Barack Obama was, in 2012, the last Democratic presidential candidate to win Ohio. In 2020, Democrat Joe Biden became the first candidate in the past 60 years to win the White House without winning the state.

These trends have left many Democrats questioning whether it’s worth vying for a statewide position in Buckeye State anymore, effectively disqualifying a state once seen as a major political leader.

Ryan said the same national Democrats who view Ohio as a lost cause are to blame.

“We haven’t done a good job as a party letting people know we’re fighting for them and we haven’t implemented the policies over the years that we necessarily needed to do. And so, a lot of Democrats in key counties are doing their first state run,” said Ryan, who is doing his first statewide race.

Ryan’s political story is, in many ways, the story of Ohio State. The Democrat was first elected to Congress in 2002, representing the Northeast Ohio region that included his hometown of Niles, along with heavy union Democrat strongholds Youngstown and Warren. While Ryan initially dominated his races – including in his hometown of Trumbull – his margins began to drop as the power of the Ohio Republicans grew. In 2020, Ryan won just 53% of the vote, his lowest bid in his district since his first election in 2002 (when his Democratic predecessor, James TraficantHe ran as an independent and lost 15% of the vote).

The shift was most pronounced in Trumbull County. For most of Ryan’s tenure, Democratic presidential candidates won about 60% of the vote there — until Trump ran for president. In 2016, Trump surprised the Ohio political world with a 6-point victory over Trumbull County. He followed that up four years later by carrying the boycott by 10 points.

For Dan Bolivka, the Democratic Party chief in Trumbull County, Trump was a sign that a slow political transition could speed up in just a few cycles.

Polivka said of 2016 and 2020: “National issues have been touched upon in some local elections. I still think there is a democratic base here and there is a lot of support for a good democrat. But national issues are now leaking out locally and that has never happened before.”

Ryan has been looking forward to a leap from the House for years. After winning another term in 2018, he explored the presidential race, finally making it official in 2019. The show was short-lived—Ryan qualified only for two Democratic primary debates due to low polls and his career ended less than a year later. seem.

I have my own record.

For Ohio Democrats, there is a lot of blame to wrap around explaining the state’s shift.

Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton, one of two Democrats running for governor this year, said she recently sought to reassure activists in the Democratic Governors Association that Ohio was still win-win for the right Democratic nominee.

Why Democrats Are Struggling To Prove Ohio Is Not A Lost Cause

“I think my husband says it best: Democrats like to run resumes, not run people who are really connected to humans,” Wally said. “That’s what we’ve been doing for a long time. We’ve hired really smart people, not working class people.”

Wally praised Ryan’s appeal to working-class voters, arguing that she had the same appeal for voters in the state’s eastern regions.

“We are both forgotten and neglected communities, both by state government and at the federal level,” Wally said. “We are both from places forgotten and ignored. We both have a slice of the working class on our shoulders.”

As Ryan looks at his chances in November, the issues are personal and airy.

For years, he was one of the prominent Democratic elected officials in Ohio. But Ryan is largely unknown outside of his Ohio corner, something he tried to address by completing a tour of 88 counties during his first year as a Senate candidate.

Ryan is holding his first statewide election at a time when consolidated Democratic control of Washington has strained voters, in Ohio and nationwide, in the party.

Ryan is confident he has the kind of profile that Ohioans look for. When asked about running as a Democrat at this moment, he promoted his past actions, such as Running against Nancy Pelosi For the House Democratic Leader in 2016, He quarreled with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders During Ryan’s ill-fated presidential bid and Opposition to President Obama at the time On trade policy in 2015. He then noted that while confronting Trump, he also stood by him in trade, creating space power, and fighting China.

“I have my own record,” Ryan said. “I’ve been doing this for a while, and so I’m not tied to Biden’s agenda just because I have a 20-year record of doing things. … I have a really good story that I want to share with Ohio voters who aren’t tied to Biden. And so, I have some space.”

Ryan put that message into a recent TV ad, blaming “both sides” for “wasting time on stupid fights.” That, for Ryan, is where the Senate Republican primaries come in.

That competition was fierce. Before Trump endorsed Vance, most candidates were openly seeking the former president’s support, trading attacks on who best represented the MAGA agenda. Once Trump offered his support for Vance, the competition became a microcosm of the fight for the Republican Party, with several outside groups angering Trump for his support of former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and candidate in the form of Senator Matt Dolan as his accuser. Opponents degrade themselves for the support of the former president.

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“You know, Columbus TV doesn’t just go to Republicans,” Ryan said, joking that a range of voters, from moderate Republicans to Democrats, were invigorated by what he called “divisive” GOP primaries that focused on “very narrow issues”. “.

Regardless of who gets out of the GOP primary, Ryan plans to run on populist economic issues that he believes can still win over voters who supported Trump just two years ago. This path looks like this: Focus on the economy, avoid the culture wars Republicans want to highlight and be prepared to stand up to your party.

Central to that plan is also to stand up to China, which he already has It angered Asian American groupswho recently accused Ryan of using a 30-second ad to push “poophobic rhetoric” that pits “society activists against those in the AAPI community.”

“We are against China, and instead of facing them, Washington is wasting our time in stupid battles,” Ryan says in the ad.

Ryan did not back down from the controversy, telling CNN that the response worries him that Democrats aren’t ready to do what is needed to win in a state like Ohio.

“That’s the competition,” Ryan said. “And if we can’t have a patriotic conversation about the red Chinese communist government trying to displace us, and look the other way when Russia invades Ukraine and tries to outdo us at every turn…then we’ll all be speaking Mandarin in 10 or 15 years.”