Tim Ryan faces formidable foe in Hagan
Before the 2012 election, Ohio Republican leaders divided the state into 16 congressional districts, purposely bunching large areas of Democratic voters into four specific districts and going to extreme lengths to create 12 that benefit their political party. Republicans gerrymandered the state making, at best, two of their districts slightly competitive so Democrats could have an outside chance of perhaps winning one or the other. However, a Democratic victory in any of those 12 districts has yet to happen.
In 2008, when Ohio had 18 congressional districts, Democrats held 10 of the seats. But there was a Republican wave in 2010, and the party picked up five seats, including Bill Johnson beating Charlie Wilson in the 6th District, gaining a 13-5 advantage.
Because Ohio population didn’t increase at the level of the rest of the country, it lost two districts in 2012 with Republicans drawing the districts so each party would lose one seat.
Every election since 2012, the results have been the same: 12 Republicans and four Democrats from Ohio in the House of Representatives.
The 1st District, which includes all of Warren County and about half of Hamilton County in Southwest Ohio, is considered a toss-up this year.
But every other congressional district in the state is either considered safe or strongly leans in favor of the incumbent.
Not including the 1st District, the race to keep an eye on is the 13th District, which includes parts of Mahoning, Trumbull, Summit, Portage and Stark counties.
Republicans made the 13th one of the four safe Democratic districts.
Over the past three elections, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland, a nine-term incumbent, has seen his voting percentage decline as those who live in the district have become less Democratic.
In 2010, he received only 53.9 percent of the vote, but that was an anomaly because James A. Traficant Jr., the former congressman who served a federal prison term on corruption charges, ran as an independent.
Some had fond memories of Traficant and as the third candidate in that race, he received 16 percent of the vote. The Republican — Jim Graham, and no it wasn’t THAT Jim Graham — got 30.1 percent of the vote.
In 2012, Ryan beat Republican Marisha Agana 72.8 percent to 27.2 percent.
After that, Ryan started a slow reduction in vote totals even though the victories were still impressive.
He beat Republican Thomas Pekarek 68.5 percent to 31.5 percent in 2014. Two years later, he beat Republican Richard Morckel 67.7 percent to 32.3 percent.
In 2018, Ryan beat Republican Chris DePizzo 61 percent to 39 percent. It was a comfortable victory, but cracks began to show. In just three elections, Ryan’s voting percentage went from 72.8 to 61 percent.
Republican Christina Hagan surely will have an even better showing in this election. Ryan is almost certain to drop under 60 percent with Libertarian Michael Fricke getting a few percentage points in a three-person race.
You can tell Ryan is going the extra mile to retain his congressional seat.
The $586,146 he raised between July and September was his strongest fundraising quarter ever, and he’s been in the House for nearly 18 years. Hagan too had an impressive third quarter raising $482.994. That would be more than Ryan raised in any other quarter in his congressional career except this last one.
Ryan is on the attack against Hagan, running very aggressive campaign ads going after her for not living in the district and for votes she made during her time in the Ohio House.
Meanwhile, the Ohio Freedom Fund, a dark money group backing Hagan, spent $150,060 criticizing Ryan. The group could launch another push against Ryan in the final days of the campaign.
While Ryan is likely to win his 10th term in the House, redistricting will change congressional borders again for the 2022 election. Ohio is set to lose another congressional seat meaning two incumbents will likely face each other in two years unless there’s a retirement.
With Ryan’s declining vote totals, and they’ll certainly drop again in this election, don’t be surprised to see him face the challenge of his life in a district that would be drawn to favor Republicans.