Politics

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan launches campaign of US Senate seat in Ohio

FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2019, file photo, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, speaks during the New Hampshire state Democratic Party convention in Manchester, N.H. Ryan, a 10-term representative from Ohio's blue-collar Mahoning Valley, officially launched his bid Monday, April 26, 2021, for a coveted open Senate seat in Ohio. He becomes the Democratic frontrunner as the party goes after Republican Rob Portman's seat in what stands to be one of 2022's most closely watched Senate contests.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

(CNN) — Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan launched his Senate campaign on Monday, betting that the state that turned red in the Trump era can return to the Democratic party in 2022.

Ryan, a Democrat who has represented the Youngstown area since 2003 and mounted a long-shot 2020 presidential bid, is closely aligned with organized labor and often touts his blue collar roots in the Mahoning Valley.

“I am running to fight like hell in the US Senate to cut workers in on the deal,” Ryan said. “Ohioans are working harder than ever, they’re doing everything right, and they’re still falling behind. Countries all over the world are investing billions in infrastructure, education, health care, and their workforce to out-compete American businesses and workers. Our workers need a game plan to level the playing field and bring jobs home to Ohio.”

Ryan has received encouragement from national and local leaders to enter the race, including from Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, and Ohio State Conference of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

In the past three election cycles, Republicans won statewide races in Ohio for president, governor and Senate. Donald Trump beat Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden there by 8 points in November. But Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s 2018 reelection victory gave the Democratic Party hope that its populist wing could still resonate in Ohio.

Key to any Democratic bid will be the Republican who wins the party’s primary. GOP Sen. Rob Portman’s decision to retire in 2022 has led to a brutal race between Josh Mandel, the former state treasurer and three-time Senate candidate, Jane Timken, the former Ohio Republican Party chair, and businessmen Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno. Other Republicans, including “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance and Rep. Michael Turner, may also run.

Ryan has a relatively clear field in the Democratic primary. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley chose to run for governor and Dr. Amy Acton, who rose to prominence as Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s public health director during the coronavirus pandemic, declined to run for Senate. Other potential Senate Democratic candidates include Emilia Sykes, the young, Black minority leader of the Ohio House of Representatives, who could mount a historic campaign and motivate the party’s base.

“One thing that we have an opportunity to do is show that with diverse candidates, with women and people of color, there is a pathway to win,” Sykes has told CNN. “What we are learning is that when you put women on the ballot, women win. When you put people of color on the ballot, we win.”

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