- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 4, 2019

Rep. Tim Ryan has long seen himself as a kingmaker in Democratic politics. On Thursday he announced he’ll join the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

The nine-term congressman said he’ll use his Ohio roots to connect with blue-collar voters whom he says Democrats have ignored and President Trump betrayed.

His path to the nomination is tough, though, as he joins a half-dozen other white men already competing among the major candidates — and Vice President Joseph R. Biden still lurking on the outskirts, poised to enter the race and compete for the same working-class voters as Mr. Ryan.

“I’m a progressive who knows how to talk to working-class people and I know how to get elected in working-class districts,” Mr. Ryan said as be announced his run on ABC’s “The View.”

Mr. Ryan’s previous claim to fame was a failed bid to oust Rep. Nancy Pelosi as House Democrats’ leader in 2016. Last year he sought to gin up another challenger to Mrs. Pelosi, though he didn’t challenge her himself.

He has argued Democrats overlook the struggles of communities that have been hollowed out by globalization and industrial decay, and has called for a new generation of leaders.

Bill Binning, retired chairman of the Youngstown State University’s political science department, said Mr. Ryan’s challenge to Mrs. Pelosi exposed his anemic fundraising abilities, which could make it hard for him to get a presidential bid off the ground.

“If he doesn’t have any money, then this is not going anywhere,” Mr. Binning said. “There are so many candidates in the field, it could be hard for him to get attention, pull a Jimmy Carter and become a wonder child in Iowa or New Hampshire.”

An analysis from OpenSecrets.org showed Mr. Ryan has raised less money than the average House member since 2002 — including last fall when he was $600,000 off the average $2.2 million pace.

Mr. Ryan also could have a tough time when it comes to liberal litmus tests on guns and abortion. He once had an A rating with the NRA, and espoused pro-life beliefs.

He has since donated the $20,000 he received from the NRA over the years to gun safety groups and now says he is pro-choice.

Kyle Kondik, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said it “will be extremely hard for him to distinguish himself” in the sprawling field.

“There are around 20 candidates now, and no one would say Ryan is a leading contender,” the analyst said. “House members, in particular, rarely make much of an impact in a presidential race.”

Mr. Kondik said Mr. Ryan’s best hope is that there’s no dominant front-runner, which “probably allows someone like Ryan to dream big.”

Mr. Ryan tried to carve out a lane Thursday, describing himself as a “reform-minded Democrat” and a believer in the free-market system.

He said he could compete in parts of the country where Democrats have struggled, delivering a message of hope for struggling working-class communities who he says could benefit from a renewed focus on clean energy jobs in wind and solar energy of the electric car industry.

“I can win western [Pennsylvania], I can win Ohio, I can win Michigan, I can win Wisconsin and that means Donald Trump is going back to Mar-a-Largo full-time,” he said.

Mr. Binning said Mr. Ryan is such a long shot that he may really be auditioning for a role as vice president.

“He was interested in that with Hillary,” Mr. Binning said, adding the congressman might be a good running mate to a coastal candidate like Sen. Kamala D. Harris. “I can’t see him doing anything for her in Florida, but maybe in Michigan and Pennsylvania he could talk the talk.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide