YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A local political leader and analyst say that even though Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan was defeated by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, middle class America and the Mahoning Valley are on the forefront of Democrats’ minds.
The final vote during the closed-door meeting was 134 to 63 for Pelosi, meaning she matched her prediction of retaining the support of two-thirds of House Democrats.
But it also means that close to one-third of the diminished group voted for a change in leadership after getting beat again on Election Day.
Even though he fell far short of toppling Pelosi, Ryan still claims to have won some victories Wednesday.
“We lost and I’m disappointed about that, but the Democrats are now talking about pensions and they’re talking about middle class wages. Not just raising the minimum wage, but middle class wages, and that’s become part of the conversation. I feel like we’ve won,” he said.
Dr. Paul Sracic, Politics and International Relations Chair at Youngstown State University, says Democrats need to start thinking about future elections.
“Democrats realize that for the next presidential election, and even Senate elections, they need to do something about the obvious weakness they have in what we always call the Rust Belt.”
Ryan and others have said that the Democrats need new leadership to win elections and connect with voters.
“I think now he’s really going to have a role in the party in maybe helping the Democrats understand how to talk to voters in places like Youngstown,” Sracic said.
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chair Dave Betras thinks the party is going to change their message to appeal to the middle class.
Many have speculated the fallout that could happen now that Ryan lost to the longtime House Minority Leader.
“It would be a slap to middle America if she were to have any retribution against him,” Betras said.
Sracic doesn’t think Ryan will be “punished” in any way.
“That wouldn’t sit well for Democrats in the Valley, or good for the Democratic Party, so I think they’ll realize that.”
Ryan said he would not rule out a run for Ohio governor but while local Democrats would be thrilled to see that, they don’t think it’s likely.
“In all of the discussions I’ve had with him, that was never ever part of the discussion. I literally think he woke up and said, ‘I gotta make sure our voice, like the people of the Mahoning Valley’s voices, are heard in the halls of Congress,'” Betras said.
Sracic said if Ryan’s goal is to run for Governor, he’s attempt at Minority Leader garnered him some name recognition.
“He has been fairly quiet, fairly unknown in Washington, and he doesn’t really have a lot of statewide name recognition either. So, if he’s thinking about a statewide seat like the governor’s office in 2018, then he has managed to get his name out there,” Sracic siad. “Many more people know who he is now than they did weeks ago.”