Government

Ryan’s Decision May Not Be His Alone to Make

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Tim Ryan may decide as soon as today whether he will challenge Nancy Pelosi and seek election as the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives. But his decision might not be his alone to make, according to published reports, and instead turn on whether U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley from New York, vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, decides to run for minority leader.

“Somebody is going to make a decision in the next day or so,” Ryan, D-13 Ohio, told The Business Journal late Wednesday.

“I’ll know in the next day or so.”

Crowley, who represents the Bronx and Queens boroughs, was elected to Congress in 1998. He is in line to become caucus chairman, which would elevate him to No. 3 in the House hierarchy. According to The Hill newspaper, “A small group of frustrated House Democrats is agitating for big changes, trying to draft Crowley … for the top leadership spot.”

Crowley is said to be inclined to stay safe, move up the leadership ranks and not fight Pelosi whose fund-raising prowess – nearly $600 million since she became her party’s leader in 2002 — gives her a tight grip on members.

Ryan’s potential challenge is described by some news organizations as a “flirtation” and Pelosi loyalists have been quoted as saying he’s being coy and enjoys the press attention.

Ryan says the deadline for his decision — and presumably Crowley’s — is tomorrow when Congress leaves for the Thanksgiving break, which would give him less than two weeks to nail down votes among the 193 Democrats who won re-election Nov. 8 or will be freshmen when Congress convenes in January.

He spent Wednesday meeting with his colleagues and doing interviews with national news organizations during which he branded his policy agenda as “America 2.0” and the “Democratic Party 2.0.” He targeted his message to millennials as well as the blue-collar voters who abandoned Hillary Clinton.

“Democrats must stop talking to blue-collar voters about running computers and start talking to them about running backhoes” to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, he said. “No one wants to hear about job retraining. They want a job.” That also means policy and spending priorities on “making things” – not just with advanced manufacturing technology but also in Rust Belt plants that can turn out parts for renewable energy sources.

Pelosi wasted no time Wednesday in firing a shot across the bow.

In a letter sent mid-morning to House Democrats, she wrote, “It is with both humility and confidence that I write to request your support for House Democratic Leader. As of this writing, I am pleased to report the support of more than two-thirds of the caucus.”

Pelosi’s letter came one day after she agreed, under pressure from Ryan and others — primarily younger members who fear it will be many years before they serve in the majority — to delay leadership elections until after Thanksgiving.

“You don’t have the votes until you have the votes on the day of the election,” Ryan replied when asked if the minority leader’s vote-count is accurate. “There’s a lot of frustration, a lot of members who want to take a look at going in another direction. So these are the discussions that are happening right now.”

In nearly every interview he does, Ryan is careful to praise Pelosi, his former mentor who appointed him to the House Appropriations Committee, and stipulate that she “is in no way to blame for what happened in the election.”

Still, a new political day is dawning, he cautions, with Republicans soon to control the executive and legislative branches of government and most likely the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Most people recognize what was built as the great blue firewall collapsed last Tuesday” – the Midwest states. “The question is who’s the messenger who can go into those communities and bring those voters back,” he said.

“The Obamas are gone, the Clintons are gone, the Bidens are gone, Harry Reid is gone. I think there’s a real appetite in the country for a new Democratic Party. The House leadership race is going to be an important signal about what the new Democratic Party looks like.”

MORE:
Washington Post: How some of Nancy Pelosi’s strongest allies turned into leading antagonists

Politico: Moulton raises doubts about Pelosi’s claim of support

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.