First the bad news for Democrats in Ohio: Out of the 16-member delegation in the House of Representatives next year, only four will be Democrats. While Ohio was painted blue in the presidential election, the delegation will be red because the Republican-controlled General Assembly created congressional districts that were clearly designed to give the GOP an unfair advantage in last Tuesday’s election.
But there is good news: Democratic President Barack Obama was re-elected to a four-year term, Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate (Republicans kept the House) and Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles played a leading role — if not the leading role — in the president’s impressive victory in the 13th District, which Ryan represents.
Residents of the 13th are right to expect that the White House will show its appreciation to Ryan and his district in a significant way.
During his re-election campaign, Ryan, who had no difficulty defeating Republican Marissa Agana, told The Vindicator editorial board that he hoped to serve on the House Appropriations Committee and its defense subcommittee. He had done so when Democrats were in the majority. Republicans took over in January 2011.
Ryan would be a minority member because the GOP retained control of the House in Tuesday’s election. Nonetheless, serving on the most powerful committee in the House would benefit the 13th District. And, being on the defense subcommittee would enable Ryan, who is completing 10 years in Congress, to ensure that the Air Reserve Base in Vienna Township is not only kept off the base-closing list, but continues to expand its mission.
The base is a major contributor to the Mahoning Valley’s economic well-being.
Ryan’s presence on the appropriations committee would also ensure the federal government’s continued financial support of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in downtown Youngstown.
The $70 million initiative is designed to promote advanced manufacturing along the Tech Belt that Ryan had a hand in establishing. The belt runs from Pittsburgh to Youngstown to Akron and Cleveland. The federal government has contributed $30 million to the additive manufacturing innovation project, while the rest is coming from companies, universities, including Youngstown State, and state governments.
The Youngstown institute is one of 15 proposed by President Obama, who has talked about a $1 billion investment to revive manufacturing.
Since politics is a numbers game, here are the presidential election results that should prompt the White House to recognize Ryan’s contribution: In the 13th District, which includes parts of Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage, Stark and Summit counties, Obama received a vote plurality of 95,953. That’s huge, considering that Obama won Ohio by about 100,000 votes.
Democratic Party operatives credit Ryan with using his political capital in the heavily Democratic district to generate support for the president.
In the 6th Congressional District, which includes a portion of Mahoning County, all of Columbiana County and a slew of other counties, Republican Rep. Bill Johnson defeated former Democratic Congressman Charlie Wilson.
We endorsed Wilson — primarily because of his support of the Affordable Care Act and the federal bailout of GM and Chrysler, but were impressed with Johnson. He went to Washington, D.C., in 2011 and remains a solid a conservative. But during his interview with The Vindicator editorial board he conceded that he had reassessed some of his preconceived notions about the federal government once he got to Capitol Hill.
Johnson has worked with Ryan on projects that are important to Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties, and we are confident the two representatives will continue to set aside their ideological differences and act in the best interest of the residents of the Mahoning Valley.