Throughout much of his two-decade-long congressional career, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan has been fond of saying he’ll “fight like hell” for his constituents. Today as Ryan campaigns as an official Democratic Party candidate for U.S. Senate in 2022, he’s belting out that same familiar refrain. We, however, would suggest a change of tune and direction for the Mahoning Valley’s veteran congressional representative.
Instead of “fighting” for the Valley and the state of Ohio in the halls of Congress, Ryan would be much better served by “working” for those same constituents, many of whom have been abandoning his Democratic Party and coloring his district and state deeper and deeper shades of purple and red.
Clearly it will be no cakewalk to victory for Ryan in next year’s hot race to replace U.S. Sen. Rob Portman. Portman is retiring after two six-year terms and creating the first wide-open Senate election in the state in 12 years.
We can’t blame Ryan for grabbing fast at the ring of Senate opportunity. Reports indicate he started fundraising for a Senate run within hours of Portman’s formal exit announcement last January. Ryan also is experiencing the greatest fundraising bump in his 20 years in office, raising more than $1 million in the first quarter of this year, long before his official entry into next year’s U.S. Senate foray. He has become one of the most well-known Democrat darlings in the state given his 20 years in the House and his presence among the final top 20 Democrat candidates for U.S. president last year.
Over those two decades, it’s been more the nature and the tenor of many of Ryan’s fights that have troubled us, including his fights with the opposing party.
Although Ryan recently has been ranked by one watchdog of Congress as among the most bipartisan federal legislators on Capitol Hill, many of his fights have struck hard against Republican politics and policymakers and in support of far-left agendas largely unpopular in his district.
Consider these examples:
• Ryan ranked among the most vociferous fighters against former President Donald Trump and his policies. We recall all too well his walkout protest during Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address. He was in great far-left company in those protests with the likes of Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, each disrespecting the former president in their own ways.
• Ryan has fumed furiously and recklessly against establishment Republicans over stricter gun controls in this nation. At one point in 2019, Rolling Stone magazine quoted the congressman saying, “Republicans need to, quite frankly, get their s– together and stop pandering to the NRA (National Rifle Association) because people are getting killed.” Such offensive rhetoric is no way to build a viable coalition against out-of-control gun violence.
• Most recently, Ryan blew up national television screens in a rant against all Republicans who opposed formation of an independent federal commission to study the Jan. 6 riot inside the U.S. Capitol as Congress was certifying results of the 2020 presidential election. Ryan accused them of not “living in reality.”
Clearly, Ryan knows how to fight, even if those fights degenerate into classless ad hominem attacks against his opposition party and many of its members. We hope that as Ryan’s Senate campaign gains steam — and it looks as if it will — he will tamp down some of the fire in those fights and focus more heavily and less belligerently on constructive work and policymaking for his constituents.
Nonetheless, Ryan has accumulated a fairly impressive track record as a career U.S. Congress member. We recognized many of his strengths in endorsing him for re-election in the toughest campaign of his life last fall against Republican Christina Hagan. He has, for example, worked to improve economic conditions in the Mahoning Valley, and his vision for the future has benefited the growth of his district as Voltage Valley for electric vehicles, advances at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna and in the birth and growth of America Makes in downtown Youngstown as an innovative additive manufacturing and 3D printing center.
Still much more work remains that would be hindered by partisan attacks. His core district of Trumbull and Mahoning counties still bears the scars of embarrassingly high unemployment and poverty rates and many other socioeconomic woes.
His acidic fights with Republicans and his cozying up to hyper leftist leaders has done little to change those grim realities in his 13th Congressional District.
We’re much more confident a cooperative working spirit will much better address longstanding plights for constituents than any mean-spirited fighting attitude ever could achieve.
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