It’s official: Tim Ryan to take on Pelosi for House minority leader

Rep. Timothy J. Ryan announced Thursday he will challenge Nancy Pelosi, his former mentor and the former Speaker of the House, to become House minority leader.

In a seven-paragraph letter sent to Democratic House colleagues on Thursday, the Mahoning Valley congressman announced his intention to run in the leadership election Nov. 30. In the letter, Ryan  said he spent hours talking to House members about his plans.

“The consensus is clear,” Ryan wrote. “What we are doing right now is not working.”

Since 2010, Democrats have lost more than 60 House seats. Under Pelosi’s leadership, Ryan noted, Democrats have been reduced to the smallest Congressional minority since 1929, the year Republicans took a political hit when the stock market crashed.

“This should indicate to all of us that keeping our leadership team completely unchanged will simply lead to more disappointment in future elections,” Ryan wrote. “At this time of fear and disillusionment, we owe it to our constituencies to listen and bring a new voice into leadership.”

Ryan, 43, a Niles native, said being a House minority leader is not one of his life’s ambitions.

“After this election, I believe we all need to re-evaluate our roles within the caucus, the Democratic Party and our country,” he said, noting that if he successfully wins the leadership role this time, he will not run again without at least two-thirds support of the caucus.

If elected, the Howland Democrat would be one of  the two top Democrats in Congress, alongside Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, the New Yorker who was elevated to that leadership position Wednesday. As of Jan. 20, 2017, all branches of government will be in Republican hands.

In a phone interview with the Tribune Chronicle on Wednesday, Ryan said Democrats must be able to sway voters in current Republican districts if the party is ever to be in the majority again. Ryan said if he gets the job, Mahoning Valley interests would become national interests.

First elected to Congress at age 29 in 2002, Ryan became a member of  the House Democrats’ “30 Something Working Group” caucus that was organized by then-Speaker Pelosi. Pelosi often referred to Ryan as the type of young and energetic person who is needed in public office.