Editorial: Tim Ryan’s Way Out of the Wilderness

Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial print subscribers will read this week when they receive the July edition of The Business Journal.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Democrat Tim Ryan nailed it when he described his party’s brand as “more toxic” than an increasingly unpopular President Trump’s brand.

With the losses of two special elections June 20 for House seats in Georgia and South Carolina, and two others since Trump took office, Democrats are bewildered about the course they should set if they hope to regain control of the House in 2018. Raising money would be child’s play compared to recruiting candidates who stand a chance of winning back a majority in the House of Representatives along with shedding the brand Republicans have pinned to them, that of being a party of smug coastal liberal elitists.

The loser in Georgia’s 6th district, Jon Ossoff, couldn’t shake the Republicans linking him to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, and what Republican TV ads ridiculed as “San Francisco values.”

In the aftermath of Democratic recriminations, Ryan laid out what his party must do: Permit new leaders to return the party to its roots in representing the interests of the middle and working classes. His analysis received front-page coverage June 21 in The New York Times, which led to multiple appearances on MSNBC and CNN. The Democratic Party needs to refocus, he argued, and offer voters an economic platform that addresses their concerns.

Democrats would have us believe that they’re about economic fairness and the inclusion of all Americans in our national life. The party raised $23.5 million and turned out an extraordinary number of voters for the special election in Georgia. Ossoff still lost by nearly 5%. Because a majority of Americans do not find the Democrats credible.

So who better than Ryan, an articulate and attractive spokesman for his party, to help Democrats find their way out of their wilderness? In representing the Mahoning Valley, a bastion of the Democratic Party since the New Deal, he can point to a record of achievement. He has secured funding for programs here that attract investment and create jobs in the latest manufacturing technology. He understands the needs of workers and employers.

Since losing his bid to replace Pelosi as minority leader, Ryan has raised his profile in Ohio and across the United States. He recently visited states that hold early presidential primaries. This, of course, has raised speculation about a bid for higher office in 2020, whether as a member of the House leadership or a spot on the national ticket. Notably on Sunday, he appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press via a satellite hookup from Des Moines, Iowa. Ryan visited the first state in the nation that selects presidential nominees to deliver a commencement address Saturday. While there, his spokesman says, Ryan attended a fundraiser for a congressional colleague and held a “meet and greet” with the Polk County Democratic Party.

Ryan talks not only of preparing people for 21st century jobs but making responsible investments in infrastructure that improve the business climate and provide much needed employment for those uninterested in making their living in front of a keyboard and computer console. He talks of energy jobs and realistic, down-to-earth projects and programs that are achievable. Even his critics — and Republican voters in his district — must acknowledge that, unlike his predecessor, Ryan puts the Mahoning Valley’s best foot forward.

Pictured: U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan appears on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday from Des Moines, Iowa.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.