Politics

Speculation Mounts About Ryan Presidential Bid

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Speculation is rampant that U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan will announce a bid for the Democratic nomination for president.

BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday that Ryan, D-13 Ohio, is planning an announcement this week. He is scheduled to appear on ABC’s “The View” today and is hosting a rally in downtown Youngstown Saturday.

Ryan’s spokesman, Michael Zetts, did not respond to requests for comment.

Bill Padisak, president of the Mahoning-Trumbull AFL-CIO, confirms that Ryan contacted him to inform other labor leaders about the Saturday rally, which will take place at 2 p.m. in front of the Youngstown Business Incubator.

“I didn’t ask him what the rally was for and he didn’t tell me,” Padisak said. “He just called and asked if I would make sure all the other labor leaders were aware of the rally.”

Over the past few months, Ryan has visited early primary states as he considered whether to mount a presidential bid. Following a March 25 speech in Youngstown, he said he needed to “pull the trigger, one way or the other,” in the next few weeks.

Ryan’s announcement is likely to be the formation of an exploratory committee to raise money and test the waters for his candidacy.

Should Ryan officially enter the race, he would join 14 other Democrats and face the daunting task of quickly raising  millions of dollars in order to be competitive. First quarter fundraising totals for candidates already in the field began to be released publicly this week.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rouke, for instance, raised $9.4 million, mostly from small online donors, in the first 18 days of his official campaign.

To participate in the debates, the Democratic National Committee requires candidates to secure donations from 65,000 individuals or meet polling thresholds.

Ryan’s most recent campaign finance report, filed with the Federal Elections Commission, shows his congressional committee had cash on hand of $167,181.54 as of Dec. 31.

The congressman, first elected to Congress in 2002, has seen his national profile rise in recent years, and is frequently interviewed on cable news networks. He spoke during a coveted prime-time slot at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He challenged Nancy Pelosi that year for House minority leader when Democrats failed to take back the U.S. House of Representatives. And last year he again threatened a challenge before supporting her bid for House speaker after the party reclaimed the majority.

Ryan has long been considered one of the rising starts in the Democratic Party. He reportedly was under consideration as running mate to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton before she selected U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Ryan was also expected to be part of her administration had she won.

He has been frequently been mentioned for races for Ohio governor or U.S. senate before ultimately demurring on those bids. In the House of Representatives, he serves on the powerful Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for passing bills that fund specific federal departments and programs.

Early in Ryan’s political career, Padisak recalled, he saw Republicans he knew wearing Ryan campaign buttons, which surprised him at the time.

“They saw him as a person who would listen to both sides and work with both sides, and that’s what they wanted,” he said.

RELATED: The Atlantic magazine, March 15, 2019:
Can a Rust Belt yogi save the Democratic Party?

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.