Saying “it has become increasingly clear” that he can do more for the Mahoning Valley, Ohio and the nation by remaining in Congress, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan has opted not to run for governor next year.
“For decades, our young people have yearned for more opportunities, and now, those opportunities are growing every day,” said Ryan, of Niles, D-13th.
“Although the region has seen a tremendous turnaround, we are still at the early stages of our revitalization with too many people who have yet to share in that recent success,” Ryan said. “I recognize that I am in a unique position to help create opportunities for these people.”
Ryan specifically mentioned the $1.1 billion expansion at V&M Star and the $70 million National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, both in Youngstown, as major accomplishments.
“By continuing to lead that effort from my current position in Congress, together we can continue to build upon those accomplishments.”
Ryan, first elected to the U.S. House in 2002, has spent the past few months giving serious consideration to running for governor against John Kasich, the Republican incumbent. Early poll numbers show Kasich with a lead over every potential Democratic challenger.
Ryan started leaning against running in December when he learned he would return this year to the powerful U.S. House Appropriations Committee. The committee has jurisdiction over more than $1 trillion of federal funds.
At that time, Ryan said the appointment “will have some impact” on a gubernatorial bid, making it less likely he’d leave Congress.
After four years on Appropriations, Ryan lost his seat in January 2011 after Republicans took control of the House and lowered the number of Democrats on the committee.
Other potential Democratic candidates for governor include Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, who created an exploratory committee for a run; Richard Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general and treasurer who currently works in the President Barack Obama administration; and ex-state Rep. Betty Sutton.
Ryan isn’t ready to endorse a candidate for governor.
Mahoning County Democrat Party Chairman David Betras said Ryan would be an excellent choice for governor and would beat Kasich, but “I’m glad he’s staying where he is to continue to give the Mahoning Valley the national recognition we deserve. He’ll continue to do great things for Northeast Ohio and the Valley.”
State Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, who was among at least a half-dozen politicians interested in running for Ryan’s seat if the congressman left to run for governor, said the right decision was made.
Hagan said he’s supporting FitzGerald, who needs to increase his name recognition if he is to beat Kasich.
“It’s an uphill battle” to beat the incumbent, Hagan said. But having Ryan as the Democratic candidate “would have made the governor’s race easier for Democrats.”
John Boccieri of Alliance, a former congressman and state legislator who also was interested in the 13th District seat if it was open, said “this decision did not come easily” for Ryan.
“So many within our party see Tim as a leader who, having grown-up in a working-class family, understands what it means to struggle and persevere,” Boccieri said.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern called Ryan “a rising star in both the Ohio and national Democratic Party, and his future is very bright.”