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Ryan vs Vance
“JD Vance is counting on billionaires like Peter Thiel and Donald Trump to prop him up. Me? I’m depending on folks like Denise from Youngstown who chipped in $5 and Craig from Springboro who gave $25.”
Tim Ryan is a Democrat who can win Ohio. A lifelong resident of the state, Ryan now lives only a few miles away from where he grew up in Niles, and he’s been fighting for working Ohioans his entire life. What he lacks in flashy progressivism, he makes up for in sharp pragmatism — a set of politics that resonate in a state where Republicans dominate and social conservatism is the norm.
Ryan’s parents divorced when he was young, and he was raised by his mother. His early life was defined by his tenure as a star quarterback until his athletic ambitions were dashed by a knee injury that ended his football career. He transferred to Bowling Green State, a public university in Ohio, where he studied political science. After graduation, he started working as an aide for Democratic Ohio Congressman Jim Traficant, an experience which helped Ryan realize that a career in politics was the surest path to helping his fellow Ohioans. In 2000, Ryan studied at New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce Law Center, receiving his Juris Doctor. Soon after, Ryan returned home to Ohio where he was elected to the State Senate, serving a half-term from 2000 to 2002. After Traficant, his former boss, was convicted on racketeering charges, Ryan announced his candidacy for the newly vacant seat in the House of Representatives. That year, he ran in a competitive six-way primary for Ohio’s 17th congressional district. His reputation as a champion of labor rights gained him support in the region’s union towns, which helped him win the nomination. As the Democratic nominee, Ryan ultimately edged out his opponents, Republican Ann Womer Benjamin and Traficant, who ran as an independent from his prison cell, and was elected with 51 percent of the vote.
Ryan’s ten terms in the U.S. House can be characterized by a trajectory of growth. In 2010, he voted in favor of the Stupak Amendment, a controversial measure that banned federal funding for abortions. However, in 2015, Ryan came out as pro-choice, announcing that over the course of his time in office he had “gained a deeper understanding of the complexities and emotions that accompany the difficult decisions [involved in elective termination of pregnancy].” He serves on the Medicare for All Caucus alongside Senator Bernie Sanders and the Blue Collar Caucus, which advocates for the interests of labor unions and working-class people. Still, Ryan’s time in the House has not been without controversy. He has been accused of Sinophobia by members of the Asian-American community for his support of anti-China legislation and campaign ads repeatedly blaming China for the loss of American jobs. As well, he defended controversial tax increases on small businesses to conservative magazine Human Events, saying in his interview, “We have huge deficits. We gotta shore up Social Security. We gotta shrink our deficits.”
In 2018, Ryan advocated for Amer Adi Othman, an undocumented immigrant from Jordan who had become a “pillar of the community” in his small Ohio town, to remain in the United States after he was threatened with deportation. As a result of Ryan’s advocacy in the House, Othman was granted a two-year stay, which was cut short by then-President Donald Trump. On the eve of Othman’s deportation, Ryan issued a statement to the press: “To watch these families get ripped apart is the most heart-breaking thing any American citizen could ever see… Because you are for these families, it doesn’t mean you are not for a secure border.
With the midterms on the horizon and the Senate majority at stake, it’s high time for us to turn our attention to candidates like Ryan who have a chance at securing a Democratic seat in states where Senate elections have typically gone to Republicans. With J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy author turned right-wing reactionary, having just secured the Republican nomination, come November, Ohioans will face the choice between a middle-of-the-road-Democrat and a Trump-backed conservative firebrand.
Caitlin Lent is a staff writer and media director for Weekly Senator. She is also a journalist and photographer. Born and raised in Deep River, Connecticut, she now lives and works in New York City.
“I’ll keep fighting like hell until we codify Roe and fully protect women’s fundamental rights and reproductive freedom.”
“Every worker in America deserves the right to collectively bargain for fair wages, good benefits, and safe working conditions — and that includes right here in Congress.”
Taxing the Rich
“If billionaires can afford to take trips to outer space or drop $44 billion on a social media platform, I think they can afford to pay their fair share in taxes like the rest of us. Don’t you?”
Ohio Federation of Teachers
United Food & Commercial Workers
BOLD Democrats PAC
Council for a Livable World
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Education Association
Voter Protection Project
Ohio Democratic Executive Committee
Planned Parenthood Action Fund
"I know Tim, and I know whose side he's on. He's not in this for himself or for corporate special interests--he has dedicated his life to fighting for Ohioans, and their jobs, and their wages, and their communities."
"My friend Tim Ryan will be a fantastic senator for Ohio and I couldn't be happier to endorse him. I've seen first hand how he shows up every day to fight for working people."