Is Ryan on a fool’s errand?


Just days after his appearance on national television during which he announced he is “seriously considering” a bid for president in 2020, Mahoning Valley Congressman Tim Ryan sent a letter to Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon, urging him to locate a company headquarters in Northeast Ohio.

Considering that Amazon had already rejected this part of the state in 2017 when it was on a national search for a site, why would Rep. Ryan of Howland, D-13th, think things were different today?

Indeed, the congressman, who began his ninth two-year term in January, must have known that Amazon isn’t looking to establish another headquarters now that it has shelved plans for HQ2 in Long Island City, Queens, N.Y.

The global business behemoth announced on Valentine’s Day it was bowing out of a deal that would have provided more than $3 billion in government subsidies in exchange for creating more than 25,000 jobs in New York City.

“One of the factors behind the reversal was mounting political pressure from labor and progressive activists who raised red flags about the billion-dollar company’s anti-labor activity and work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, while highlighting ongoing gentrification in Queens that the company’s presence would accelerate,” Mother Jones magazine reported. “Labor activists hoped to leverage the city’s offer of subsidies to make the company commit to union jobs. Shortly after the announcement, workers at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse launched an organizing effort with Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.”

Not surprisingly, the company would not accede to the demands of the activists, including labor leaders, politicians and community organizers.

In announcing its withdrawal from New York City, Amazon said it would proceed with the construction of a headquarters outside Washington, D.C. Twenty-five thousand jobs will be created.

A smaller HQ in Nashville, Tenn., will have 5,000 jobs.

Amazon also said the 25,000 jobs that would have been created in the New York HQ will be distributed throughout company facilities in the U.S. and Canada. It also will expand existing offices in New York.

In other words, Congressman Ryan’s letter to Bezos is nothing more than an exercise in wishful thinking.

Indeed, a cynic might suggest that it was a publicity stunt aimed at bolstering his announcement of a possible presidential bid.

In an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Erin Burnett, the Democratic congressman with growing seniority in the House, said, “I don’t feel any pressure for any timeline at this point, but I am seriously considering it.”

Ryan, who represents a heavily Democratic district in Republican-leaning Ohio, bemoaned the fact that America is deeply divided.

“You know, a divided country is a weak country, and I’m concerned about that,” he told Burnett. “I don’t feel any pressure to make any particular announcement anytime soon, but it is something I’m really worried about. I mean, the debate you had a few minutes ago about the economy where you have 400 people in the country who have more wealth than the bottom 150 million. You know, workers want cut in on the deal here, and they haven’t been for 30 years. So it’s something I’m considering.”

It isn’t the first time Ryan has talked about running for president.

To a large extent, his political ambitions have been driven by the national coverage of his very public battle with veteran Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

Ryan twice challenged Pelosi of California for leadership posts and was vanquished on both occasions. Nonetheless, his brazenness has endeared him to some Democratic Party insiders who believe the old guard should step aside.

First, Ryan took on Pelosi for minority leader in 2016, launching a hard-hitting national campaign to persuade Democrats in the House that it was time for a change.

However, Ryan found out the hard way that Pelosi, who was first elected to Congress in 1987, wields a lot of power. Although he insisted during his bid for minority leader that he wasn’t engaged in a personal vendetta against Pelosi, he didn’t pull any punches as he sought to unseat her.

But when the Democratic caucus in the House met, any doubts about Pelosi’s power and influence were quickly erased. She stomped on Ryan’s head with a 134-63 vote.

But the Valley congressman wasn’t done.

In last November’s mid-term elections, Democrats had decisive wins in House races around the country and captured a majority of the seats.

Pelosi, who made history as the first female speaker of the House from 2007 through 2010, was expected to take the gavel in January.

However, Ryan and 15 members of the incoming Congress sent a letter to their colleagues saying they were committed to changing the leadership in the House. They conceded that Pelosi had accomplished much as leader of the Democratic caucus, but argued that the results of the November election were a clarion call for a change at the top.

Ryan and his cohorts pledged to take the fight to the floor of the House during the roll call for speaker.

Pelosi launched a counterattack and Ryan realized that he had once again been taken to the woodshed by one of the most talented and experienced politicians in the country.

The Valley congressman gave up the fight against Pelosi, and when Democrats and Republicans voted for speaker, she garnered 220 votes to 192 for Republican Kevin McCarthy.

Ryan’s failed coup attempts are now part of his political resume and will come back to haunt him should he make a bid for the Democratic nomination for president.

The congressman enjoys strong support in the predominantly Democratic 13th District, but it’s clear that a quest for national office would be an uphill battle. The question Ryan must ask himself if this: Do I want to give up an 18-year career in the House of Representatives to pursue a dream that has little chance of coming true?

On the other hand, if he remains in the House, he could be speaker one day, given that he was able to get a commitment from Pelosi that she would serve no more than four years.

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