WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) – On November 30, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a new leader – the results of which could make Valley Congressman Tim Ryan one of the most powerful Democrats in the country.
On Thursday, the former Warren JFK High School football and basketball star, who grew up in Niles, officially announced that he is challenging California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi for House Minority Leader.
Ryan sent a letter to those in the House Democratic Caucus, announcing his intentions to run in leadership elections. He cited the disappointing election for the Democratic Party as his reason for putting his hat in the ring, saying a change in leadership is needed:
Dear Democratic Colleague,
Last Tuesday’s election will forever be remembered as a major turning point for the United States of America. Like many Americans I was disheartened by the results, but I also realized that Democrats must not let this opportunity for change pass by without a fight.
I have spent countless hours meeting and talking to Members of our Caucus, and the consensus is clear. What we are doing right now is not working. Under our current leadership, Democrats have been reduced to our smallest congressional minority since 1929. This should indicate to all of us that keeping our leadership team completely unchanged will simply lead to more disappointment in future elections.
Over the last 18 years, Democrats have only been in the majority of the House of Representatives for two terms and last week’s election results set us back even further. We have lost over 60 seats since 2010. We have the fewest Democrats in state and federal offices since Reconstruction. At this time of fear and disillusionment, we owe it to our constituencies to listen and bring a new voice into leadership.
The American people need to know we understand that they elected us to fight for economic opportunity for all. We need to create America 2.0 — a multicultural, progressive, and innovative country that fights every day for ordinary people.
While having a position in Democratic Leadership has never been my life’s ambition, after this election I believe we all need to re-evaluate our roles within the Caucus, the Democratic Party, and our country. That is why I am announcing my run for Minority Leader of the Democratic Caucus and humbly request your support.
In the days and weeks ahead, I will put forward policies and ideas to help us energize the diverse base of our party, and fight the intolerance and dangers that President-elect Trump represents. I expect the entire Caucus to hold me accountable. That is why if I am successful I will not serve again without the support of two-thirds of the Caucus.
We need more voices at the Democratic Leadership table. Every member of our Caucus must play an important role in the future of our party and our country. Vote for me and I will dedicate all of my energy to lead us back into the majority. Our constituents deserve nothing less.
Thank you for your support.
He said he has spent countless hours meeting and talking with members of his caucus. Having done that much talking and listening, Ryan, who has always been politically cautious, may have a good idea that he has the votes to win.
The news of Ryan’s announcement seemed to regenerate Democrats around Youngstown, who are still stinging from the defeat to Donald Trump and the loss of more seats in the House and Senate.
They also realized that having someone in such a powerful position could only help the Youngstown area.
Dan Polivka, Trumbull County commissioner and chairman of the county’s Democratic Party, is in a position to understand the significance of Ryan possibly becoming the next House Minority Leader.
“He’ll be able to hopefully negotiate more things for our county. I know in the past, he’s been on the appropriations committee and what not. I’m just hoping for something positive, a good thing to come out of it,” he said.
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Betras says that between Ryan and Pelosi, Ryan is the better person to talk to middle America.
“You know, Nancy Pelosi’s average constituent makes $137,000 a year. Tim Ryan’s average constituent makes $57,000 a year.”
Senator Sherrod Brown praised the work Pelosi has done on the earned income tax credit for low income workers.
“Tim’s going to have to make the case that he is going to be something different than that, different and better, and I wish him well,” he said.
Joe Schiavoni is minority leader of the Ohio Senate and says it’s time for a change.
“If we stay with the same thing after an election like that, what does that say about the Democratic Party? I think Tim Ryan represents working class people, he has a strong voice for working class voters and this is what the Democratic Party needs.”
Over the past few days, Ryan has been making his way around the network news shows.
On Thursday night, he was on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show. When asked what he would do differently if he became House Minority Leader, he said the party has to talk about the future.
“I think we are going to have to win 30 or 40 Congressional districts in the southern part of the country in red Congressional districts – southern Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan. We got to win seats there, upstate New York,” he said. “We need a leader who can go into all of those districts and persuade people who voted for Donald Trump to come back into the Democratic fold…I know I can do that, I’ve been doing it my whole career.”
Ryan reiterated that he loves Nancy Pelosi and said it’s tough because it is a “battle in the family.”
The lawmaker decided to run for Congress in January of 2002 when he was still an Ohio State Senator. Now he’s ready to begin his eighth term in January, starting his fourteenth year on Congress.