Ohio Congressman Who Challenged Pelosi Says He’s Running For President

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who challenged Nancy Pelosi for a leadership spot in 2016, is telling supporters he's running for President in 2020.

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who most recently made a name for himself by running against Nancy Pelosi for the position of House Minority Leader, is apparently putting together a bid for the Democratic nomination for President:

Tim Ryan has been telling political consultants and operatives that he intends to run for president of the United States in 2020, and is beginning to put together a team, according to multiple sources who’ve spoken to Ryan.

Ryan, who has served in Congress since 2002 as a representative from the 13th District in Ohio, which covers Youngstown and the surrounding area, has cast himself as an opportunity for the party to try and win back the Midwestern votes it has gradually shed over the last decade. A spokesperson for Ryan declined to comment.

The 13th Congressional District is emblematic of the challenges that Democrats face in the Rust Belt. As a profile in the New Republic noted, between 2001 and 2013, two of the largest counties in Ryan’s district, Trumbull and Mahoning, shed nearly 19,000 manufacturing jobs. Perhaps relatedly, the district gradually shifted from strongly Democratic to one where Republicans have gained ground. In 2016, Trumbull went to Donald Trump — the first time the county went Republican since before 1972.

Ryan’s district is one of the few poor, majority-white districts that is represented by a Democrat. But he won’t be running on a stereotypical working-class persona; instead, he believes his path to the White House runs through the “yoga vote.”

Ryan has long been a champion of mindfulness, meditation, and similar pursuits, and has even created a “Quiet Time Caucus” in the House of Representatives. James Gimian, the publisher of Mindful magazine who knows Ryan, said he isn’t sure whether Ryan will run for president, but that the yoga vote has gone mainstream in recent years. “The so-called yoga voters are the kind of folks who realize that while they grew up with their mom saying, ‘Pay attention,’ nobody trained them in how to pay attention and use their mind to focus on what’s important,” he said. “That’s a growing population — it’s no longer just Lululemon yoga women.” He said that anybody who is negotiating the “emotional land mine of modern day living” could be someone Ryan’s message would resonate with.

Ryan, who was elected to Congress at age 29, is the author of the 2012 book “A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit.”

“It gets marginalized by calling it the yoga vote. I think it’s much bigger than that,” Gimian said. “His aspiration is to bring this kind of conversation to a wider office.”

The group Yoga Votes (“One body united for change”) puts the total number of people who do yoga in the U.S. at 20 million, and Ryan has done work with the group.

Operatives who have spoken to Ryan about his run say that he genuinely believes he has a chance to win. “I’m gonna win,” he told one flatly.

(…)

Aside from his fixation on the yoga vote, Ryan’s bid will likely revolve around him being able to prove the the theory of his case: that states like Ohio and Iowa can once again return to the Democratic column with the right candidate who can win back Trump voters. ”Our failure as a caucus has been not to focus on economic issues,” he told Fox News’s Chris Wallace while challenging Pelosi in 2016. ”If we don’t get the middle of the country, we’re never going to be back in the majority,” he said, arguing that Democrats have become a coastal rather than national party.

But Ryan will have a hard time laying out that argument with rivals who would likely have a similar path — such as Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Both have made economic populism their political brand, and both are politicians that Democrats have heard of, unlike the obscure Ryan, who could probably walk into and out of any Indivisible meeting — or yoga class — across the country without being recognized. Sanders and Warren, meanwhile, can deliver that message unencumbered by influences such as the Clintonian think tank Third Way, which wants economic messages to be shorn of any threat to the donor class.

Moreover, it isn’t clear that Ryan would necessarily pivot to populism during a presidential bid. When the Democratic Party’s professional anti-progressive wing, represented by Third Way, met recently in Ohio and conferred on how to stop the influence of Sanders-style populism, Ryan, who has a close relationship with Silicon Valley, was one of the speakers. “”You’re not going to make me hate somebody just because they’re rich. I want to be rich!” he reportedly told attendees, contrasting himself with more populist candidates.

As noted above, Ryan first made a national name for himself some two years ago when he challenged Nancy Pelosi for leadership of the House Democratic Caucus, arguing that the party needed new ideas and younger leadership from an area other than the East and West Coasts if it was going to survive in the age of Donald Trump. As it turned out, of course, Pelosi easily beat back Ryan’s challenge, although his name has come up again as Democrats look ahead to the midterms and question whether their current leadership sends the right message ahead of both those elections and, more importantly, the 2020 Presidential Election. With this announcement, Ryan seems to be indicating that he would not be mounting another challenge to Pelosi, but that could possibly change depending on the outcome of the midterms. As things stand right now, though, it seems clear that Ryan does not intend to challenge Pelosi again.

As it stands, Ryan’s chances in a race for his party’s nomination seem slim at best. Generally speaking, members of the House of Representatives have not been successful at either winning their party’s nomination or winning the Presidency. The last time it happened was in 1880 when James Garfield, who also had a national reputation as a hero of the Civil War, was elected President while serving as a Member of Congress from Ohio, although Garfield had also been elected to the Senate by Ohio’s legislature prior to winning the Presidential election. Since then, while there have been Members of Congress who have run for President, most notably Richard Gephardt of Missouri, who ran for the Democratic nomination in both 1988 and 2004, none of those individuals has won their party’s nomination and none of them has been elected President. In no small part, this is due to the fact that Congressmen do have the same national prominence as Senators, Governors, or former Vice-Presidents. Given the long list of Democrats likely to run in 2020, it seems unlikely that Ryan will have any better luck than those previous candidates.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Congress, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    Yes, this is much more informative and important than anything we have learned about the Carter Page FISA warrant.

    Mike

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  2. al Ameda says:

    Okay, it’s officially ON.
    Bring it.
    The Democratic Party needs the intra-party competition.

  3. al Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    Yes, this is much more informative and important than anything we have learned about the Carter Page FISA warrant.
    Mike

    Actually, Mike, what we learned from the (heavily redacted) Carter Page FISA warrant was the following: (1) the FBI was right to seek the warrant in the first place, (2) the FISA Courts was right in issuing the warrant, and (3) Devin Nunes is still the most unethical and slimiest grease ball member of the Republican House.

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  4. MBunge,

    Once again, I will advise you that off-topic comments are in violation of the Comment policies

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  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:

    Yes, this is much more informative and important than anything we have learned about the Carter Page FISA warrant.

    Boy, oh boy…once State TV gives you the talking points you hold onto ’em like a pit bull, don’t you sunshine? Too bad your dear leader is such a poodle.

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  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The yoga thing is kinda funny…as I wrote yesterday; there are more yoga instructors than coal miners, and more people practice yoga than watch NASCAR.
    I don’t know a lot about Ryan, but I doubt he’s got what it’s going to take.
    In general though…this is probably the way I’d like to see the 2020 race play out:
    I don’t think Biden, Sanders or Warren can win, and they are better utilized as attack dogs.
    Then run a candidate like Ryan, but probably more likely Booker or Gillebrand, or Harris, or Joaquín Castro.
    Holder and Landrieu have too many negatives for the opposition to pick apart.
    Steve Bullock, from Montana, is too unknown.

  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:
  8. Timothy Watson says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I guess the farmers don’t have bootstraps to pull themselves up with?

  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Timothy Watson:
    Apparently trade wars are easy to win if you subsidize the losers.

  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Timothy Watson:
    Kinda funny you have to bail people out in the middle of “the best economy in the history of the world”.

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  11. Kylopod says:

    has cast himself as an opportunity for the party to try and win back the Midwestern votes it has gradually shed over the last decade

    I’m a little skeptical of this reasoning; it reminds me of the way after Bill Clinton’s victory a conventional narrative settled in that Dems had to nominate a Southerner in order to be competitive nationally. It was a big reason I believe why politicians like John Edwards and Mark Warner were constantly being pushed as future presidential material. Obama’s rise more or less demolished this narrative, showing it was possible to win without the South by gathering together a coalition of minorities, college-educated whites, and younger voters–all of whom are likely to become even more important as time goes on.

    Of course Obama did better than Hillary among whites without college degrees (not “working class voters,” which includes many minorities–in fact Hillary beat Trump among voters making less than 100K and trounced him among those making less than 50K), but he still did relatively poorly among this group compared with previous Democrats. (Romney beat Obama among this demographic by about 26 points.) Dems obviously could stand to do a little better, but what they should be focusing on most of all is rebuilding the Obama coalition that didn’t turn out to the polls in 2016.

    Dems could stand to improve their messaging when it comes to the working class, but their policies are already geared toward the working class, and to a far greater degree than during the era of Bill Clinton, the last Democrat who did win the white working class (albeit with a plurality, not an absolute majority). At some point we have to accept the fact that many of these voters are cultural conservatives who aren’t going to be won over through appeals to their economic interests–otherwise we are chasing phantoms when it has already been demonstrated that we can look elsewhere to build a successful electoral coalition.

  12. Moosebreath says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    “Apparently trade wars are easy to win if you subsidize the losers.”

    But, I thought Republicans were against the government picking winners and losers. Or is that only when a Democrat does the picking?

  13. wr says:

    This guy has been in congress since he was 29, and his sole notable accomplishment was a failed run at leader. Why would anyone other than him think he should be president?

  14. charon says:

    Ryan is either running for V.P. and/or for publicity.

    I really can’t stand Bernie, he seems pretty self-centered and has never displayed management skills or any ability to actually accomplish anything. He has lots of baggage HRC didn’t use, I am hoping he can be tanked.

    Not a big fan of oldsters like Biden and Warren, Biden has some baggage too – MBNA, Anita Hill.

    I think it comes down to Booker, Harris, Gillibrand. I used to be team Harris, but I am coming around to Gillibrand – mainly because I see her as the most politically savvy, would probably be the best campaignr JMHO.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    Yoga Vote? I’ll give you that he’s no Kucinich, but he’s definitely on the spectrum. What is it with Ohio?

  16. MarkedMan says:
  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Too bad your dear leader is such a poodle

    Or maybe more like this guy.

  18. Tyrell says:

    Sounds like “power of positive thinking” in a gym suit. Maybe Pastor Joel Osteen will run for something.

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @charon:
    Gillibrand reads as too nakedly ambitious for me, too opportunistic. That could change, but her leap into attacking the Clintons did not impress me.

    I don’t know what’s going on with Kamala. I like her better in theory than in reality. She seems unfocused to me, but there’s a theory that she’s playing a smart long game. Time will tell etc…

    I’d love it to be Biden, but he’s old and we need to get away from the Boomers, I think. The most successful political leader in the country is Jerry Brown, but he’s 80. Warren is 69, young compared to some, but still a Boomer. I want some age contrast. Youngish, steady, and incorruptible will be important characteristics. The country will be sick to death of Trump’s eternal chaos and his gang of corrupt relics. We need a contrast to that, IMO. Kamala should be that person, I’m just not sure she is.

  20. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Biden was born in 1942, and so technically he’s too old to be a boomer (which is usually defined as starting just after WWII). Of course that doesn’t change your point in the least.

  21. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m a little skeptical of this reasoning; it reminds me of the way after Bill Clinton’s victory a conventional narrative settled in that Dems had to nominate a Southerner in order to be competitive nationally.

    I don’t think that’s about being a Southerner. The point is that Red and Purple State Democrats are used to competitive elections since their first election. A point about Dukakis is that his Presidential Run was the first competitive election of his life – in some sense he did not know how to structure a competitive campaign. He managed to narrow his numbers in the polls in the last weeks of campaign in part because he was still learning to campaign, and he’s got a far better game in the end of the election.

    Obama knew that, his campaign manager in 2012 came from Montana politics.

  22. Yank says:

    <blockquoteGillibrand reads as too nakedly ambitious for me, too opportunistic. That could change, but her leap into attacking the Clintons did not impress me.

    I don’t know what’s going on with Kamala. I like her better in theory than in reality. She seems unfocused to me, but there’s a theory that she’s playing a smart long game. Time will tell etc…

    Agreed with Gillbrand. The Clinton comments were extremely self-serving and off-putting. But I think you are wrong about Harris. She seems like the only one who understands the purpose of keeping a low proifle, while pushing for measures progressives like (aka CA housing bailout). It is a similar approach to what Obama had prior to 2007.

  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Yank:

    She seems like the only one who understands the purpose of keeping a low profile

    That is my hope, and the reason I’m watching her, I’m just not sure of her ability to make it work. She’s not Obama, she doesn’t light up the stage. At least not yet.

    The housing move was interesting though, wasn’t it? I got one of her emails (once you donate to politicians you never lack for emails) on the plan and thought, “Hmmm, you know, she’s right: the cost of housing is a huge, submerged issue waiting to be crystallized.” It’s not just California (though we are the champions of over-inflated housing costs) it’s places like Florida and North Carolina, too. And it has the advantage of being a non-identity issue.

    OK, now I’m talking myself back into Kamala Harris.

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  24. Kylopod says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    I don’t think that’s about being a Southerner.

    I wasn’t commenting on the reality, I was commenting on a common narrative before Obama came along, and how inaccurate it turned out to be. Pundits are always settling into lazy narratives about the reasons for particular election outcomes: “The Dems need a Southerner!” “The Dems need a Midwesterner!” Neither of these narratives is completely false; in fact they both have strong elements of truth. But they’re wildly oversimplistic, and I think they overemphasize the importance of demographics in choosing a candidate.

    Note that Trump won Arizona by just 3 points, Texas by just 9 points, and Georgia by just 5 points–all extremely underwhelming results for a Republican in the 21st century. Yet because he still managed to win all those states, Clinton didn’t gain anything from his weaknesses there. I think what we were seeing was possible hints of a future Democratic electoral coalition that hasn’t quite jelled yet, that might end up rendering the Rust Belt irrelevant. It would fit other historical realignments that have happened, such as the 20th-century swap between the South (which used to be solidly Democratic) and the Northeast (which used to be strongly Republican).

    Now I’m not saying this scenario is inevitable by any stretch. Perhaps Trump’s weaknesses in those states was a fluke. Perhaps it’ll take a lot longer than I’m thinking for Dems to become competitive in those places. And maybe Dems will recover in the Midwest.

    The point is that electoral coalitions are constantly shifting, yet there’s a tendency for pundits not to notice these shifts while they’re happening and to be stuck in a way of thinking in which the most recent elections represent some kind of permanent condition. (Ironically, this was one of the reasons why many of them didn’t anticipate Trump’s electoral strengths.) This way of thinking always seems to lead certain candidates to be overhyped for their demographic advantages alone.

  25. Gustopher says:

    I really like that we are getting a lot more candidates to choose from than in than 2016. Maybe Ryan will surprise us all — a mix of economic populism, “third way”, and a touch of flakey new-age stuff might come across as new but comforting to most of the base. I know I’d rather have a president who meditates than one who rage tweets, and a white man shows that Democrats are more than just a party for minorities. He seems more Vice Presidential than Presidential though.

    I think it’s going to be Corey Booker in the end. The man runs into burning building to save people while he is jogging.

  26. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kylopod:

    Pundits are always settling into lazy narratives about the reasons for particular election outcomes: “The Dems need a Southerner!” “The Dems need a Midwesterner!” Neither of these narratives is completely false; in fact they both have strong elements of truth. But they’re wildly oversimplistic, and I think they overemphasize the importance of demographics in choosing a candidate.

    I think that these people are always pondering about the last war, or election. Barack Obama won with a large coalition of minorities, and pundits ignored the problems that Democrats had with White voters. In 2008 these people were arguing about the opposite.

    But I think that’s a good idea to choose nominees that are used to running really competitive elections – like, elections were he or she might have lost the GE.

  27. charon says:

    There is a profile on Kamala Harris up at 538:

    (And also about Democratic Party).

    538

  28. JohnMcC says:

    @Tyrell: I think you need to google ‘yoga pants’.

  29. An Interested Party says:

    @charon: In a lot of ways, Harris is an extremely intriguing presidential candidate, and can you just see the contrast of her standing on a debate stage with the Orange Toddler? I wonder if she would let him stalk her around the stage the way Hillary did…

  30. James Pearce says:

    As it stands, Ryan’s chances in a race for his party’s nomination seem slim at best.

    He’s a white dude, and the Democrats are too racist/sexist to accept a white dude as the head of their party.

  31. Tyrell says:

    @Kylopod: Democrats in the south: there is still a wide range of Southern Democrats around here as registered voters, local and state office holders. They are centrist to conservative. The problem is the leaders of the Democrat party in the last several years have taken it so far to the left it sometimes sounds like a faculty discussion at some California university – Berkeley if you please.
    There are some signs that Democrat centrists can win elections and retake the party: look at Alabama. There are plenty of Democrats around who will vote for conservative – center Democrats. It is a mistake for the Democrat leadership to write off the south. Yoga, meditation, and “no borders” won’t cut it down here.
    Memories around here run deep. People remember Republican actions of the past – the Reconstruction disaster for one.

  32. Grewgills says:

    James Pearce I can’t even tell if you are joking anymore.
    If you are, your persona here has fallen so far into self parody on this issue that it is near impossible to tell if/when you are joking on this topic.
    If you are not, Jesus man, step away from the keyboard.

  33. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    I can’t even tell if you are joking anymore.

    I am not joking.

    Look at the comment thread above. Booker, Harris, Gillbrand, Warren. Women and minorities from the Senate….Can’t even conceive of anyone else.

    We’re not even going to consider anyone from the pool of the nation’s governors?

  34. wr says:

    @James Pearce: I don’t know. Do you have anyone in mind, or are you unwilling to do your own work even in coming up with a name?

  35. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    Do you have anyone in mind, or are you unwilling to do your own work even in coming up with a name?

    Joe Biden.

    John Hickenlooper. Bullock. McAullife. Or how about Deval Patrick?

  36. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:
    * Biden is too old and gaffe prone
    * McAullife has too much Clinton baggage
    I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Bullock. I’m pretty sure almost nobody outside of Montana has. Is there a reason you listed him other than he is white and a governor? Not trying to be snide, I’m genuinely curious if he has anything else going for him.
    * Hickenlooper seems a longshot. I don’t know much about him, but if he runs I’ll listen to what he has to say.
    * Deval Patrick isn’t white, so he seems to fail your white man test to be eligible for your list. He does seem to be on a lot of people’s lists.

    Biden and Sanders are considered serious players for the nomination despite their ages and other failings, so your can’t be a white man and run for president as a Democrat nonsense is both ahistorical and flat out stupid. Just stop your white men are the real victims schtick. It is far past it’s sell by date.

  37. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    Is there a reason you listed him other than he is white and a governor?

    He’s from Montana. Hick is from my home state, good guy. I’d happily vote for him, but he’s too much of a dweeb to be running for president.

    I would have named some women, but most female governors are Republicans.

    And yes, Deval Patrick is not white. But it’s not a “white man” test, it’s a “who has experience running a state” test. Point is, look away from the diversity candidates in the Senate, and if you got to get a white guy, bite your knuckle and get a white guy.