Two months ago, we defined Con- gressman Tim Ryan’s political future as a choice between a sure thing and a roll of the dice.
The six-term member of the House of Representatives from the Mahoning Valley was contemplating running for governor in 2014, and we advised against it.
Last week, Ryan announced he is staying in Congress — a decision residents of the 13th District should applaud. The 13th is a sure thing for Ryan because it is one of four districts in Ohio represented by a Democrat. The other 12 are in Republican hands. That disparity is the result of the Republican majority in the General Assembly creating congressional districts that stretch the definition of gerrymandering.
The Republicans had to put the state’s Democratic voters somewhere, so they packed them into the 13th and three other districts.
Ryan of Niles is in the strongest position to retain his congressional seat for as long as he wants. The 13th encompasses most of Mahoning and Trumbull counties and portions of Summit, Portage and Stark counties.
He will run for re-election next year, which he could not have done had he entered the governor’s race. And unlike a relatively clear path to the Democratic nomination in the 13th, Ryan would have faced at least one strong contender for the party nomination for governor: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.
Democrat Richard Cordray, who is serving as head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate. Cordray, former Ohio attorney general, was a recess appointment by President Obama and is awaiting Senate confirmation.
Ryan’s decision to remain in Congress means the Mahoning Valley will continue to have a strong advocate when the time comes to fight for the preservation of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna Township.
Through the efforts of the congressman and U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the base was granted a reprieve from the budget cuts contained in the 2013 defense spending bill. However, the next round of military installation closings or realignments by the Pentagon could come in 2014 or 2015.
Ryan serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and its defense subcommittee, which means he is in a strong position to lobby on behalf of the air reserve base. Although he is in the minority, the Democratic congressman is in a position to garner support from other members of the caucus and Republicans.
Ryan has played a crucial role in the region’s economic revival and can be expected to keep going after federal dollars for projects that have attracted national and international attention to the Valley.
The $70 million National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in downtown Youngstown is an example of the public and the private sectors working together. The federal government has allocated $30 million for the start up of the institute, which is focusing on manufacturing innovation. The remaining $40 million is coming from a consortium of nine research universities, including Youngstown State, community colleges, including Eastern Gateway, 40 companies and 11 nonprofit organizations in the Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh Tech Belt.
Ryan was instrumental in the creation of the tech belt.
As each year passes, the congressman builds seniority, which will stand him and the Valley in good stead if Democrats regain House contol.