Ohio Democrat considers Pelosi challenge

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, is considering challenging House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for her leadership post.
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U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, is considering challenging House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for her leadership post.

Rep. Tim Ryan weighing bid to be the House minority leader.

Rep. Tim Ryan, a northeast Ohio congressman, is considering challenging House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for her leadership position, his office confirmed Monday.

“Congressman Ryan has never had the ambition to run for Leader, but after last week’s election results and the conversations he has had with his colleagues, he is open to the idea,” said Michael Zetts, a Ryan spokesman.

Ryan “is flattered that a growing number of members of the Democratic caucus have called on him to run,” Zetts said, adding that many Democrats are interested in a change in leadership.

“He watched many traditional Democrats leave our party and he is concerned that if changes aren’t made, we will be in the political wilderness for many years to come,” Zetts said.

Ryan has not yet made a decision, he said.

This won’t be the first time Ryan has flirted with the idea of making a move. Throughout his 14 years in Congress, he’s also considered running for governor and the U.S. Senate. But each time, his safe seat — he won last week with 73 percent of the vote — has kept him from doing so.

Ryan, D-Niles, is among a group of House Democrats frustrated that leadership elections will occur so quickly after the GOP held onto control of the House during last week’s elections. He signed onto a letter with 30 other Democrats urging that the elections be delayed, according to a spokesman, but then removed his name after members and Democratic analysts began urging him to consider mounting a challenge.

Zetts said Ryan last night sent a personal note to Pelosi urging that the leadership elections be pushed back. He said Ryan “loves and has the highest respect” for Pelosi, considering her a friend and mentor. But, he said, “The American people are asking for big changes and we need to figure out how best to deliver on their requests.”

Among those who argued that Ryan should run is former MSNBC commentator Krystal Ball, who wrote in the Huffington Post that Ryan, whose district includes Youngstown, “speaks the language of disaffected blue collar voters and is also the kind of young scrappy fighter who could go toe to toe with a President Trump.”

“Could Congressman Tim Ryan offer the new direction the party needs?” she wrote. “I think so.”

Pelosi, D-California, has led House Democrats for 12 years.

Democrats picked up six seats last week — far less than the at least 20 seats they had hoped to pick up.

Ryan’s district includes all or parts of Mahoning, Portage, Stark, Summit and Trumbull counties. He’s one of four Democrats in the state’s U.S. House delegation.

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