2020 Candidates: Tim Ryan

Welcome to our recurring series “Who The Fuck Are All These Fucks?” in which we profile, in brief, each of the 2020 candidates for president. This series is not meant to be exhaustive, and you’re encouraged to look into each candidate on your own.

NAME: Timothy John Ryan
AGE: 45
CURRENT JOB: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio’s 13th District
PREVIOUS JOB: Member of the Ohio Senate
QUICK, COME UP WITH FIVE NICKNAMES: Timmy J, T-John, TJ Rye Rye, Timjo, Also-Ran Ryan

Tim Ryan was born in Ohio and did a lot of Ohio things in his youth like “played football” and “played football at Youngstown State” and “got a knee injury so he went to Bowling Green State which is, apparently, a better school but doesn’t have the same caliber football program.”

Ryan worked for Ohio Congressman James Traficant after college before launching his own political career in the Ohio Senate. His senate gig was short-lived, though, because Traficant was a crime man. Convicted on ten counts including bribery and tax evasion, Traficant was expelled from Congress, leaving his seat open. Since Ryan had experience working the district and, since he had not recently been convicted of crimes, he easily defeated Republican Ann Womer Benjamin and independent James Traficant, who still managed to get 16% of the vote from his jail cell.

Ryan was a solid blue collar Democrat supported by labor and middle class voters. He was no fan of the Bush administration and frequently spoke out against its policies, but he supported restricting federal funding for abortion and adopted a fairly pro-business stance unless his labor base would be opposed.

But over time, Ryan moved visibly leftward. In 2010, he called for an increase on taxes on businesses of all sizes as a way to strengthen Social Security. In 2015, he announced that his views on abortion had changed dramatically and that he now supported repealing a ban on federal funds for abortion providers.

Then, in 2016, Ryan lurched left again, announcing that he would challenge Nancy Pelosi for House Minority Leader. Ryan gained 63 votes, nowhere near enough to threaten Pelosi (who won with 134). He opposed her election as Speaker of the House in 2018 although he did not run against her.

“I want to let people know I’m not some newbie. I’ve thought about this stuff for a long time.”

Tim Ryan (D-OH 13)

His announcement for president wasn’t a big surprise to anyone who knows anything about Ryan, but most people don’t know anything about Ryan so it kind of flew under the radar. For someone who started out as a labor centrist, Ryan has moved to something more like a Jay Inslee Green Democrat: his campaign website calls for sustainable farming, crop insurance, increased access to farmers markets and fresh food, and a “pragmatic, climate-conscious energy policy” towards 100% carbon neutral energy. Ryan leans heavily into green issues – his economic ideas are also deeply rooted in green technology – but his longtime support for labor and Medicare for All are present here, too.

Ryan’s staking a lot on the debates, where he hopes to show off his experience. He told the Vindicator:”People don’t know I’ve been in Congress that long. I want to let people know I’m not some newbie. I’ve thought about this stuff for a long time.” He acknowledged that it would be better to have fewer candidates – maybe spreading the two-night debates into three- or four-nights – but despite his relatively low poll numbers the nine-term congressman might be one of the star performers of the night.

Whether he can turn that into election success in a crowded race for the nomination is another story.

This series is part of Our Long National Nightmare, an Owl Line recurring series funded by supporters on Ko-Fi.

The cover photo for this image was taken by Tim Evanson and is available under a Creative Commons license.