An Ohio lawmaker will challenge the longtime House Democratic leader today in an effort to reset the party after a grim 2016 election season.
Rep. Tim Ryan, a Youngstown-area Democrat, will pose his long-shot challenge to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, Wednesday on Capitol Hill. He’s secured 11 public endorsements from fellow Democrats out of the 188 Democrats currently serving in the House.
Ryan, 43, has served in the House since 2003 — the same year Pelosi, 76, was first elected House Democratic leader.
In a letter announcing her plans to run, Pelosi said she has the backing of two-thirds of the caucus. Still, Ryan, who has called Pelosi a “mentor,” argues that he felt obliged to challenge Pelosi because he feels the party needs to do more to appeal to the white-working class voters who backed Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton earlier this month.
While Pelosi had predicted Democrats would pick up at least 10 House seats, they netted only six.
“When you see working class people — blue-collar people — going and voting for Trump, that’s a failure of the Democratic Party because they felt like we didn’t care about them,” Ryan said in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch earlier this month. “That just makes my stomach sick.”
He has vowed that if he wins and Democrats continue to take a drubbing at the polls in 2018, he will step down after one term.
“It’s time for us to get off our rear ends and start leading,” Ryan said. “That’s why we need new leadership. This is not rocket science.”
For her part, Pelosi dismissed Ryan’s suggestion that she can’t lead the party with white working-class voters in an interview with The Huffington Post.
“He didn’t even carry his district for Hillary Clinton,” she told the online publication this week, “so I don’t know why he’s saying that.”
Among those who have backed Ryan is Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland. Rep. Joyce Beatty, whose district includes parts of Columbus, and Toledo Rep.Marcy Kaptur have not said who they’ll back.
Ryan’s district includes Niles and Youngstown and reaches into Stark County.
Jack Torry of the Washington Bureau contributed to this report.