Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)
Greg Nash

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) on Monday formally entered the race to succeed retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in Ohio, becoming the first Democrat to throw his name into the closely watched Senate contest.

Ryan, who has represented Ohio’s Youngstown region in the House for 18 years, had been expected for months to be nearing a Senate campaign announcement. He made good on that expectation on Monday in a video unveiling his intentions. 

“It can’t be businesses versus workers,” Ryan said in a video announcing his candidacy. “This is a partnership. But that partnership needs to be redefined. We have to cut workers in on the deal. I’ll work with anyone to rebuild our economy, but I will never sell out our workers.”

“I’m Tim Ryan. I’m running for Senate, and I can’t wait to get Ohio working again,” he added.

Ryan’s candidacy is set to test Ohio’s battleground status after years of rightward movement in the state’s politics. Former President Trump carried the state twice in 2016 and 2020, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is now Ohio’s only Democratic statewide elected official. 

Ryan launched a longshot bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, betting that his blue-collar background and deep ties to the industrial Youngstown region would appeal to ancestral Democratic voters who had helped send Trump to the White House in 2016. 

But his campaign failed to pick up momentum, and he dropped out of the nominating contest months before the Iowa caucuses.

Despite his unsuccessful presidential campaign, Ryan has been floated as a top contender for the Senate in Ohio. Portman’s announcement earlier this year that he would not seek reelection in 2022 turbocharged speculation that Ryan could make a run for the seat.

No other Democrat has entered the race yet, though a few are considering potential bids, including Ohio state House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce. Amy Acton, the former Ohio Health Department director, announced earlier this month that she would not run for Portman’s seat next year.

The Republican field of candidates, meanwhile, is already growing crowded with the likes of former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken, businessman Bernie Moreno and investment banker Mike Gibbons, all of whom are jockeying for Trump’s endorsement in the race.

Tags 2022 midterms Democratic primary Donald Trump Ohio politics Ohio Senate Race Rob Portman Sherrod Brown Tim Ryan

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