After losing what was essentially a proxy battle for the future of the Democratic Party shortly after the 2016 election, Rep. Tim Ryan is hoping to cement himself as a Rust Belt representative for the liberal working-class voters in rural America.
Ryan, who attempted to take Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s position as House leader but fell short, again pushed his colleagues to elect someone else late last year. When that, too, failed, he announced he’d run for president on a platform of fighting for the working class in states like his native Ohio.
An eight-term member of Congress, Ryan has been known to change his opinions on issues of outsize importance to Democrats. He flip-flopped from anti-abortion to largely pro-choice, and from a politician with a favorable “A” rating from the National Rifle Association to one who donated the roughly $20,000 he received from the gun lobby to enact stricter gun laws.
A self-described “independent” and a fan of the Cleveland Browns, Ryan served in the Ohio state Senate and began his career in politics as a congressional aide in 1995.
He was born in Niles, Ohio, and played football in high school. He was recruited to play quarterback at Youngstown State University but a knee injury ended his career, according to WKYC.
He is a supporter of Medicare for All, but said he would agree to allow patients to buy into Medicare without eliminating private health insurance companies until Medicare for All could be implemented effectively. He also wants to “reverse” climate change by investing in clean energy domestically.
On the economy, he said he supports government-funded entrepreneurship and worker protections. He wants to enact policies that protect family farms, and shift federal subsidies away from crops used in the production of highly processed food and toward smaller producers of fruits and vegetables.
He announced his intention to run for president on NBC’s “The View” in April, emphasizing the need to keep manufacturing jobs and reach voters in rural parts of the country.
“I understand that legacy of job loss. ... I understand where we need to go. The country’s so divided right now that we can’t get a plan together. The first thing we ought to do is unify,” Ryan said, according to NPR.
He has assailed President Donald Trump, whose presidential victory in 2016 included a similar emphasis on the working class, for failing to follow through on campaign promises.
“Trump has been full of promises and hasn’t delivered on anything,” Ryan said. “He’s forgotten us.”
The 2018 closure of a General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio — in the Congressional district he represents — served as motivation for him to run.
“When our local GM factory was shut down last Thanksgiving, I got a call from my daughter who was consoling her friend whose father was an autoworker and was just laid off. My daughter said to me, with tears in her voice, ‘You have to do something,’ ” Ryan wrote on his campaign website.
About Tim Ryan
▪ Current or most recent position: U.S. representative (2003-present)
▪ Other elected offices: Ohio state Senate (2001-02)
▪ Occupation: Attorney
▪ Education: Bowling Green State University; University of New Hampshire School of Law
▪ Age: 45
▪ Residence: Howland, Ohio.
▪ Family: Wife Andrea Zetts, children Mason, Bella and Brady
▪ Campaign website: timryanforamerica.com
▪ Small donors: About 8.4% of Ryan’s campaign contributions came from small donors.
▪ Fun fact: His personal hero is Baker Mayfield, the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns
Sources of biographical information: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/us/politics/tim-ryan-2020-campaign.html, https://timryanforamerica.com/#meettim, https://timryan.house.gov/about , https://www.businessinsider.com/who-is-tim-ryan-bio-age-family-key-positions-2019-4