Money Leads Ryan to Drop Presidential Bid

POLAND, Ohio – Money, or rather the lack there of, led U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan to drop his longshot bid for the Democratic nomination for president, the congressman acknowledged Thursday afternoon. 

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, met with reporters outside the U.S. Route 224 Starbucks on his way home for Washington, having announced around 12:30 p.m. he was ending the bid, which began in April with an announcement on “The View” before a weekend rally in downtown Youngstown.

“We ran out of money. That was the bottom line. There was no realistic path forward and I wasn’t going to stay in just to stay in,” Ryan said. 

Ryan, who a month earlier had said that he would remain in the race despite not having met the fundraising nor polling thresholds for the third and fourth presidential debates, said his campaign was securing endorsements and making progress on the ground. 

However, the campaign lacked the funds for workers to follow up as contributions fell off when he did not qualify for the debates.

“We were doing OK with money and then as the dynamics started to change, as people started to pay more attention, it was after Labor Day, and the money just wasn’t coming in,” he lamented. “We were calling and hustling and trying our best to get it, but at the end of the day it wasn’t there.”

Ryan complained that the qualifying guidelines for the debates emphasized candidates’ ability to get money early. 

“It’s really an artificial standard that they put to try to winnow the field,” he remarked. The standard wasn’t “malicious” in intent but didn’t play to his strength, which was meeting with people on the ground, he said.    

“The one thing we needed to fall into place was the money and it just never came into play,” he said. 

The Democratic field – which at one time was at about two dozen candidates – left a lot of candidates vying for media attention and fundraising dollars, said Capri Cafaro, an analyst for Fox News and a former state senator. Big names such as former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts already had an “established national presence” and “took up a lot of the oxygen in the room,” she said. 

“It’s unfortunate,” she continued. “The field today is not as good without Tim in it.”   

Ryan, whom she has characterized as “the Gen X Joe Biden,” was “uniquely positioned” to attract the types of voters that the Democratic nominee will need to win the presidency – those living in communities like Trumbull County, a normally Democratic county that Donald Trump won in 2016, and Mahoning County, another traditional Democratic stronghold that Hillary Clinton barely won that year, she said. 

The ability to connect with working families and labor unions and an understanding of the economy in America’s heartland are going to be necessary skill sets for a candidate to be competitive in the general election, Cafaro said. 

David Betras, former chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, praised the “positive impact” Ryan had on the race by getting the candidates to talk more about the Midwest and other parts of the country that determined the winner of the 2016 election and “breath[ing] some air” into the issues affecting them.  

As to why Ryan’s campaign did not gain more traction, there were a “whole bunch of other people who were saying the same things that gave them more traction,” Betras said” 

Ryan “brought an important perspective to the debate stage” and used his campaign to “to lift up the voices of those who have been left behind,” agreed David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. 

Ryan said he was not ready to endorse one of the remaining candidates, although he acknowledged that some are discussing issues in a way that could afford them the opportunity to win the primary and the general election. 

Biden is discussing working-class issues and Andrew Yang – although he doesn’t necessarily agree with his solutions – is addressing the “big shifts” in the economy, Ryan said. 

Ryan acknowledged that he would be willing to accept a cabinet post. “I want to do what I can to help what’s going on in this country, and I want to do that at the highest level you can do,” he said.  

He warned that Democrats need to be careful with some of the issues and positions that candidates have taken to beat Trump. “You’ve got to run a campaign that’s very much focused on what the working class people are going through,” he said.   

Ryan’s announcement Thursday was “the biggest ‘no surprise’ of the campaign season,” said Mark Munroe, former chairman of the Mahoning County Republican party.  

“By most accounts, the most charitable word to describe the congressman’s tenure in the house is ‘unremarkable’ and his anemic fundraising and dismal standings in the polls left little doubt he was heading for the exit door,” Munroe continued. “Ryan has solid left-leaning credentials, but today’s Democrats have little appetite for anyone with even just a little moderation in their blood.”

“One has to wonder why he got in the race in the first place,” he added.  “If he actually believed he had a shot at the White House, you have to question his judgment. If he got in the race to jockey for a future opportunity, then you realize he is just another politician.”

Kevin Wyndham, chairman of the Trumbull County Republican Party, said it’s commendable when anyone from the area wants to make a positive difference in the lives of people, whether Democrat or Republican. 

“Maybe he thought this was his time,” he said. “My bigger concern is does he return to his base – both Democrat and Republican – and listen to us more as our representative in Congress as to what we want and what our needs are.”

Ryan will take a few days off but has already started working on his congressional reelection campaign. In the second quarter, Ryan raised $42,662 for his congressional re-election campaign and had $41,050 in the bank at the end of the quarter.

He dismissed the notion that running for president diminished his prospects for winning his seat. 

“Everything I’ve talked about in the presidential campaign was directly related to lifting up people in communities like ours” and his constituents recognize that he has worked hard for the district, Ryan said. 

When addressing hot-button issues such as gun control, he continued, his positions on issues such as universal background checks align with the majority of the American people, even as the National Rifle Association pushes against those policies. He also noted he pushed back on issues such as mandatory confiscation of weapons, positions that don’t “represent the values of people here.”  

Observers – Democrats and Republicans – acknowledged Ryan’s presidential bid likely won’t impact his future prospects. Some critics argue that his focus on the campaign came at the expense of the attention paid to his district, Ryan has a long track record of delivering for his constituents, and he has more than a year to rebuild goodwill among his them, Cafaro said.  

“Most people who have aspired to higher office have had stumbles along the way,” Betras said. “This just made him a better candidate and a better public servant.” 

The congressman’s presidential bid likely won’t impact his ability to get reelected, Munroe acknowledged.  

“Ryan is running in a district that was designed for Democrat success, so the odds of his presidential bid affecting his congressional re-election bid in a negative way are very low,” Munroe said. “But the willingness to help the president and disappointment with Ryan has prompted three GOP challengers to come forward.  

“In years past it was often a challenge to find a single Republican willing to take on the challenge of a congressional race in such a heavily Democratic area,” he continued. “The political winds may be shifting again.”

Pictured: U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan officially ended his bid for the Democratic nomination for president Thursday.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.