YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Although Valley Congressman Tim Ryan’s official response was predictably low-key and vague, rumors that he is being considered as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton do not surprise local party leaders.
“When I tell people in the Mahoning Valley that we’re ground zero of ground zero, I’m serious about that,” said Dave Betras, Mahoning County Democratic Party Chair.
He says that Ryan, who is now in his seventh term in Congress, could help Clinton carry this part of the state and win Ohio.
“They cannot lose or do poorly north of Columbiana County, particularly Mahoning and Trumbull County, and expect to win the state,” said Paul Sracic, Youngstown State Political Science Chair.
Sracic is in Japan giving lectures about the 2016 race and Mahoning Valley politics. He says Democrats may be using Ryan to counter the popularity of Donald Trump, who has been able to convince thousands to switch parties and vote for him.
“That incredible, you know, Republican vote that you get in the primary in March in Mahoning County, maybe has gotten the attention of the Clinton people or the Clinton campaign.”
Although the choice of a running mate hasn’t always had a significant impact on a campaign, Sracic thinks 2016 could be different because polls have shown both Clinton and Trump have poor favorability numbers.
“We have two candidates right now in both Trump and Clinton, the presumptive nominees for both parties, who have incredibly high negatives,” he said. “Anything that they can add to their ticket to drive those negatives down, to make it a little more of a positive, I think is going to become really, really important this year.”
As for Ryan himself, he says he will do what he can to help Clinton win in November.