Despite Mahoning Valley Congressman Tim Ryan’s insistence that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi won’t punish him for challenging her, there are two factors that give us cause for concern.
First, Pelosi, a Democrat from California, crushed Ryan of Howland, D-13th, in the secret balloting Wednesday for leader of the House Democratic caucus. The vote was 134 to 63.
Ryan, who will begin his eighth two-year term in January, contended in a conference call with reporters from around Ohio that the outcome was a “big victory” for him because he received more votes than previous challengers to Pelosi, former speaker of the House.
We aren’t swayed by such spin. The fact of the matter is that the Valley congressman received less than a third of the vote, which means the House party leader won convincingly.
Therefore, for Ryan to now expect Pelosi to be magnanimous in victory is to turn a blind eye to big-league political reality.
Indeed, the Huffington Post had a story Tuesday with this headline: “Nancy Pelosi Torches Democrat Trying to Unseat Her As Party Leader”. There also was this sub headline: “She called it ‘pathetic’ that Rep. Ryan says she just wants more power”.
The story had this opening paragraph:
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tore into fellow Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) on Monday for suggesting that she can’t lead the party with working-class voters, and called Ryan’s claims that she’s focused on empowering herself within their caucus ‘almost pathetic.’”
That certainly doesn’t sound like a family squabble, as Ryan has portrayed his challenge of the minority leader.
In fact, in reaction to his contention that Pelosi is out of touch with the Democratic voters in the union halls in the industrial Midwest and fish fries in the Midwest and the South, the California congresswoman quipped:
“He didn’t even carry his district for Hillary Clinton, so I don’t know why he’s saying that. I have strong support from our friends in the unions, including steelworkers, which I guess are his area.”
In light of those and other comments Pelosi made during the several weeks Ryan was campaigning to oust her, it becomes clear he’s being overly optimistic when he contends that things will go back to normal in the House Democratic caucus.
As we noted in a recent editorial, Ryan could be risking his seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee by challenging Pelosi. After all, the minority leader has a lot of sway when it comes to committee assignments.
Although Ryan is a minority member in the House, he has been able to use his committee assignments to funnel millions of federal dollars to the Mahoning Valley.
For instance, the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill provided $12.7 million for area military bases, including the economically crucial Youngstown Air Reserve Station; $10 million for a Youngstown-Dayton military additive manufacturing program; and $5 million for reservoirs.
As we also noted in the editorial, these are challenging times for the Valley, given the impending loss of 1,200 or so jobs at General Motors’ Lordstown assembly plant and the uncertain future of the air base.
Ryan’s tenure on the appropriations committee has been a safety net for the Valley – which he may have jeopardized with his highly publicized political maneuver.
We, therefore, urge Ryan, who has long been recognized as an ally of Minority Leader Pelosi, to ensure that he hasn’t burned any bridges.
Pelosi is well aware that the heavily Democratic Mahoning and Trumbull counties are important to the party’s political fortunes and that Ryan’s victory in the Nov. 8 general election shows just how strong he is in the 13th District.
Given Democrat Clinton’s loss in the presidential election to Republican Donald Trump, a political newcomer, and the failure of the Democratic Party to take control of the Senate and make major gains in the House, Ryan is right about the need for soul-searching.
But his bid to topple Pelosi was ill-advised and now could be detrimental to his future. Ryan must make amends – for the good of the Mahoning Valley.