U.S. Rep. Ryan Posts $1.2M for Q1 Fundraising

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The campaign committee for U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, who is contemplating a run for U.S. Senate in 2022, reported Thursday morning he raised $1.2 million during the first quarter of 2021.

Tim Ryan for Congress also said it had $1 million cash on hand as of Wednesday, the final reporting day of the first quarter.

Ryan’s first-quarter fundraising was nearly 16 times more than the $73,939 he raised during Q1 2019, and more than double the $586,000 he raised during the third quarter of 2020, the previous best quarter reported by Tim Ryan for Congress.

He received a total $1.99 million in contributions during the entire 2020 cycle.

Ryan’s fundraising numbers “would give anyone who was contemplating that race a little bit of a pause,” particularly potential Democratic candidates,” said Capri Cafaro a professor at American University in Washington, D.C., and a Democratic former Ohio Senate minority leader who represented Trumbull County.

Cafaro acknowledged she was one of those donors. She gave the maximum $2,900 contribution for the current filing period to Ryan’s campaign. She also said she expects the race to draw a lot of national attention because of its potential to flip the balance of power in the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans each hold 50 seats.

The fact that Ryan eclipsed his past fundraising totals indicates his seriousness about running for the U.S. Senate seat, she said.

“It certainly positions him well to announce,” she said. “If he’s serious, it would be smart for him to announce sooner rather than later on the heels of these kinds of numbers to make a definitive and clear signal to not only the people within Ohio but nationally that his intent is to run for the United States Senate and build upon that momentum.”

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, has experience in fundraising but never faced a lot of competition locally so never had a pressing need to raise a lot of money, said Paul Sracic, chairman of Youngstown State University’s department of politics and international relations.

“It’s early. He’s going to need a lot more than this to mount a successful statewide Senate race,” he remarked. “This is going to be very expensive for both parties.”

Donations of less than $200 accounted for 88% of all contributions for the first three months of 2021, according to Ryan’s campaign.

“Grassroots support for Tim Ryan continues to grow as Ohioans recognize a strong and authentic leader who fights every day to cut workers in on the deal,” said Dennis Willard, spokesman for Tim Ryan for Congress. He cited Ryan’s efforts to help Americans with additional COVID-19 relief and make sure Ohio companies have “a seat at the table for federal investments in clean energy technologies,” and his criticism of Republicans for “for focusing on Dr. Seuss instead of working families.”

Ryan, in a separate release from his congressional office, said he had “productive calls” Wednesday with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granhom and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg regarding the role Ohio workers and businesses could play in leading the “green energy economy.” He specifically cited the work already being done by “Voltage Valley” entities including Lordstown Motors Corp., Brite Energy Innovators, YSU, the Youngstown Business Incubator and the Ultium Cells plant now under construction.

The campaign release additionally referenced President Joe Biden’s praise of Ryan during a visit to Columbus last week.

“If I got to be in a foxhole, he’s the guy I want to be with.  He always keeps his word, does exactly what he says he’s going to do,” Biden said, echoing his remarks during a 2018 Youngstown appearance to support Ohio’s Democratic statewide ticket.  

Willard would not comment on what the numbers might mean as Ryan considers next year’s race for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

The open Senate seat has drawn interest from several Republicans, including former state treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio Republican Party chairwoman Jane Timken, “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, none of whom had released first-quarter fundraising totals as of Thursday morning.

Another Democrat considering the Senate race, former Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton, a Youngstown native, has not made a decision yet about the seat and has not formed a campaign committee or begun raising funds, according to an informal adviser.

Last month, 314 Action Fund, a group that encourages candidates with backgrounds in the sciences and related fields to run for office, released polling that showed Acton with the highest net favorability among five candidates, including Ryan, and beating Timken, Vance and Mandel, with Ryan narrowly losing to all three.

The group also pledged up to $5 million to support Acton in the primary, should she decide to enter the race.

The polling by Public Policy Polling indicate that statewide people don’t know much about Ryan, so he will have to spend money increasing his name identification, Sracic said. Acton had higher numbers than Ryan, largely because of her near-daily appearances during the cornavirus briefings with Gov. Mike DeWine until she left the administration last year.

“Voters have no idea where she stands on a lot of issues important to them beyond COIVD,” he added.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.