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Thursday, October 24th, 2019

Ohio’s Tim Ryan drops out of the 2020 Democratic presidential sweepstakes

Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tim Ryan announced on Thurs­day that he was drop­ping out of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial sweepstakes.

The con­gress­man from Ohio’s 13th Dis­trict had con­sis­tent­ly strug­gled to raise both funds for his cam­paign and find trac­tion in pub­lic opin­ion research polls.

Tim Ryan speaks to labor groups in Iowa

Tim Ryan’s cam­paign failed to make an impact on the elec­torate (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Ryan took part in the first two rounds of debates (in June and July), but ris­ing donor and polling thresh­olds kept him off the stage in the lat­er rounds (in Sep­tem­ber and Octo­ber). He has failed to get more than 1% in most polls.

Ryan’s cam­paign focused on win­ning back white work­ing-class vot­ers in the indus­tri­al Mid­west. Ryan rep­re­sents a dis­trict in west­ern Ohio, a region that swung for Trump in 2016 after a long his­to­ry of being a reli­able Demo­c­ra­t­ic stronghold.

2016 was also the year in which Ryan rose to nation­al promi­nence by chal­leng­ing Nan­cy Pelosi for the lead­er­ship of the House Democ­rats. Ryan argued that the Democ­rats’ then-recent pres­i­den­tial defeat showed that the par­ty as a whole need­ed new­er, younger lead­er­ship. Pelosi defeat­ed his chal­lenge only after promis­ing to give new­er House mem­bers lead­er­ship opportunities.

Ryan launched his bid for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion in April 2019.

His cam­paign mixed eco­nom­ic pop­ulism with pro­gres­sive ideas, attempt­ing to craft a mes­sage tai­lored to Mid­west­ern vot­ers. Ryan promised to bring jobs back to the country’s man­u­fac­tur­ing heart­land through gov­ern­ment invest­ment in renew­able ener­gy and elec­tric vehi­cles, and he argued that agri­cul­tur­al pol­i­cy had broad­er appli­ca­tions in areas such as health­care and cli­mate justice.

Ryan’s polit­i­cal plat­form large­ly con­sist­ed of pol­i­cy planks that are wide­ly accept­ed with­in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty: rais­ing the min­i­mum wage to $15 per hour, expand­ing stu­dent debt for­give­ness, uni­ver­sal back­ground checks for gun pur­chas­es, and legal­iza­tion of marijuana.

How­ev­er, Ryan’s ideas dif­fered from pro­gres­sive can­di­dates’ in a num­ber of areas: he declined to sup­port Medicare for All; his rhetoric on the eco­nom­ic con­se­quences of immi­gra­tion sound­ed almost Trumpian at points; he sup­port­ed increased defense spend­ing; and he offered praise for Trump’s weaponiza­tion of tariffs.

In a con­test that has been large­ly defined as a bat­tle between can­di­dates with old-fash­ioned neolib­er­al ideas (pri­mar­i­ly Joe Biden) and those with bold pro­gres­sive plans (such as Eliz­a­beth War­ren and Bernie Sanders), Ryan strug­gled to find a com­fort­able place for him­self in the large Demo­c­ra­t­ic field.

Ryan’s depar­ture from the pres­i­den­tial race is like­ly to put pres­sure on sim­i­lar­ly under-per­form­ing can­di­dates to drop out; of the eigh­teen Democ­rats remain­ing in the race, only nine have qual­i­fied for November’s debate in Geor­gia. The qual­i­fy­ing can­di­dates are Joe Biden, Eliz­a­beth War­ren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Har­ris, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Stey­er, Andrew Yang, Cory Book­er, and Amy Klobuchar.

The can­di­dates who have not made the cut for November’s debate are Beto O’Rourke, Tul­si Gab­bard, Julián Cas­tro, Michael Ben­net, Steve Bul­lock, John Delaney, Joe Ses­tak, Mar­i­anne Williamson, and Wayne Messam.

For­mer H.U.D. Sec­re­tary Julián Castro’s cam­paign has already sent out dis­tress sig­nals, call­ing on sup­port­ers for at least $800,000 in dona­tions in a recent email. The cam­paign has said that Cas­tro may drop out as ear­ly as the end of October.

As for the oth­er can­di­dates in the bot­tom half of the field, many have hard ques­tions to face as the race con­tin­ues – espe­cial­ly those who hold elect­ed posi­tions. Tim Ryan has decid­ed to run again for his con­gres­sion­al seat in 2020.

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