Rep. Tim Ryan calls for entire House Dem leadership team to resign


By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

With the Democrats unable to win special elections this year and what he says is the party’s continued failure to connect with middle America, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is calling for the entire House Democratic leadership to resign.

“It’s the whole leadership team that needs to go, though I don’t think it will happen,” Ryan of Howland, D-13th, told The Vindicator. “I’m frustrated with the party’s direction. Going into 2018, we need to move forward with a new leadership team.”

The current Democratic leadership team of the House of Representatives includes:

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn of South Carolina.

Ryan has received a lot of national media attention in the past week for his outspoken statements about his political party, including appearances on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” as well as on CNN and MSNBC and in The New York Times.

Ryan unsuccessfully challenged Pelosi for House minority leader in November, saying the Democrats failure again to gain control of Congress was a sign that a change at the top was needed.

After losing to Pelosi 134 to 63, Ryan has been quiet about the situation.

But since last week’s defeats of Democrats in special elections for open congressional seats – created by Republicans resigning to join the administration of President Donald Trump – Ryan and a group of House Democrats have called for Pelosi’s ouster as minority leader. He upped the stakes telling The Vindicator that the entire House Democratic leadership team should resign.

“The leadership is saying that we did better than we thought we would” in the special elections, Ryan said. “The growing frustration of others, including me, is they’re accepting that we came in second, and it was all positive. There’s been no clear evaluation of what happened.”

Ryan said he won’t seek the leadership position again.

“It’s not in the cards for me,” he said. “I don’t want my criticism of the current situation to seem self-serving. I want to get back in the majority. We have to figure out what we’re doing.”

Ryan said Republicans have done a good job tying Pelosi to Democratic candidates to hurt them in elections. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Congressional Leadership Fund, which it described as the most important House Republican super PAC, said it will continue to spend millions of dollars connecting Pelosi to Democratic candidates.

“It’s not the least bit fair,” Ryan said. “She’s a great legislator. But they spend a lot of money branding her and have done so successfully.”

Having the existing House Democratic leadership team in place “diminishes our chances of gaining control in 2018,” Ryan said. “With everything going on with Trump and health care, control of the House is in play, but it’s hard to unseat incumbents. You’ve got to give yourself the best shot to win and the current leadership team is an impediment. We need new leadership so we can have a new brand. We need someone new that hasn’t had hundreds of millions of dollars spent on labeling her in a negative way that’s been effective.”

The existing Democratic brand “is bad,” Ryan said. “In some places, the Democratic brand is worse than the Trump brand. That was proven in the special elections. I don’t want to say that, but it’s true. We’ve got to talk about what we can do for people and not how bad Trump is.”

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