Timing key to Ryan’s decision

Well, it was about time.

After months of speculation, and multiple attempts by me and other reporters to nail down what Tim Ryan intended to do about 2014 bid for Ohio governor, he finally made it official Friday that he was staying put in the U.S. House, but I’m sure our nagging did little to affect the timing of the announcement.

But the timing cannot be discounted.

Ryan’s announcement that he wouldn’t be going after the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. John Kasich was four days after Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced he was forming a gubernatorial exploratory committee, a move that lets the Democrat raise money without formally declaring his candidacy.

Also, a poll last month shows Ryan to beat Kasich needed to make up serious ground; Kasich held an eight-point lead over Ryan. Also, the poll suggested that not a lot of Ohioans know a lot about Ryan – 72 percent reported they didn’t know enough to form an opinion.

Ryan also had to factor in his decision what surely would have been a costly primary election.

Political expert Paul Sracic said Ryan’s decision makes sense.

Sracic, the chair of the political science department at Youngstown State University, said that although well-known around here, Ryan doesn’t really have statewide recognition, which would be a problem in the primary election.

Ryan would have to raise and spend a lot of money to boost awareness, Sracic said.

Sracic also said look at the media markets: Cleveland for FitzGerald and Columbus for another prospective candidate, Richard Cordray, the former treasurer and attorney general in Ohio who now runs the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who is from Franklin County, compared to Youngstown and Akron for Ryan.

”Also, Ryan now holds one of the safest seats in the state. Why risk that for a run that he could lose at the primary stage?” Sracic wrote in an email.

”This is probably the best decision for him and for the region,” Sracic wrote. ”Obviously, it would be nice to have a governor from the Mahoning Valley, but the odds would have been against him.”

Then Sracic dropped this: ”If the Democrats hope to recapture the governor’s mansion in 2014, their best shot is probably Cordray.”

In 2010, a terrible year for Democrats, who lost races for governor, attorney general treasurer, auditor and the edge in the Ohio House, Sracic said Cordray narrowly lost to Republican Mike DeWine, a former U.S. Senator.

Cordray lost by less than 2 percent.

Coincidentally, the same poll that showed Ryan was the underdog to Kasich shows Cordray had the best chance of beating the Republican if the election were today, although Cordray would still come out on the short end of the stick, 44 percent to 38 percent.