Attorney seeks to oust Ryan in 2018

A 30-year-old Mahoning Valley native who moved home from New York to pursue a bid to knock off U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said he is interested in pursuing some of the same goals President Donald Trump touted on campaign visits to the area.

“President Trump’s campaign clearly understood the frustrations of people in the district. His promises of rebuilding our economy, enacting fair trade policies for American industry, a return of manufacturing jobs to the region and eliminating burdensome regulations that are prohibiting our businesses to grow are measures I look forward to fighting for when I get to Congress,” said Chris DePizzo, an attorney who graduated from Cardinal Mooney High School in 2005 and who plans to make his home in Cuyahoga Falls.

DePizzo is seeking to dethrone Niles-born Ryan, D-Howland, who has represented Ohio’s 13th District since 2003, when he was elected at age 30.

“In eight consecutive elections, the voters of the 13th District have made it abundantly and overwhelmingly clear that they want Tim Ryan to be their representative. They’ve made that choice because Tim reflects their values, understands this district, has fought tirelessly to enhance our quality of life and vigorously opposed Republican policies that favor Wall Street over Main Street,” said David Betras, head of the Mahoning County Democratic Party.

But DePizzo says voters in the 13thDistrict, which includes most of Trumbull County, Mahoning County, and parts of Portage, Stark and Summit counties, are not pleased with Ryan’s performance and apparent interest in pursuing national politics.

Mark Munroe, chair of the Mahoning County Republican Party, said Ryan has spent too much time in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and not enough time in the district.

Ryan’s spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment Friday, but Betras said voters in the district are interested in a candidate who will speak out against the president and GOP.

“(Ryan has) emerged as a leading voice against Trump’s attempts to rob Valley residents of their health care coverage and he’s doing the same as the president and the Republicans try to pass a tax package that will enrich the wealthiest Americans and pick the pockets of the middle class,” Betras said. “I’m interested to learn more about Mr. Depizzo’s stand on the issues and whether he supports Trump’s policies. I’m interested in learning if he’ll swear to the president’s lies, join him in attacking women and minorities, support his crazed foreign policy that has brought us closer to nuclear war than was ever imagined possible.”

DePizzo said, if elected, he would not support a bill that would “take away” health care.

“It’s clear that ‘Obamacare’ is a failed system. Premiums are going up, and the quality of care is going down. We need to replace ‘Obamacare’ with a system that will work. But I am in no way for taking away people’s health care,” DePizzo said.

And Kevin Wyndham, chair of the Trumbull County Republican Party, said voters are ready to make a change.

“The Trumbull GOP and the entire 13thDistrict is excited by this announcement. The people of this district have clearly stated they are ready for change and Chris can successfully challenge Tim Ryan, especially since Tim has obviously focused his energy and sights on other things beside the 13th district in recent years and the voters in this district are keenly aware,” Wyndham said.

When announcing the run, DePizzo stressed his connections to the Valley, where his father was a firefighter in Liberty and his mother a clerk in Youngstown, and he said he chose to move back to the area with his wife two or three months ago to raise a family.

“And like anyone coming home, you realize some things change, and some things stay the same. Unfortunately, what has changed hasn’t always been good, and what has stayed the same are the battles our community has been fighting for generations. People are leaving our community … our population has been decreasing for years now as folks leave the area and leave the state to pursue opportunities that don’t exist here. Our unemployment rate is still higher than both the national and state averages,” DePizzo said. “And while other regions in the country have seen an uptick in jobs and an improvement in their economies, here the job market and economy remain stagnant.”

DePizzo attributed the state of the district to Ryan’s focus on the Democratic Party and said he has become too much a part of the “system.”

“He’s had 15 years to meditate on finding solutions and crafting policy that will put our community back on a path to prosperity and instead he has shown he cares about his political party more than he cares about us, that he cares more about self-promotion than making a difference for us,” DePizzo said.

Ryan’s district is being targeted by the Republican Party as one that could flip because, among other reasons, for the first time in decades voters in Trumbull County selected the Republican candidate for president over the Democrat.

Munroe said it is unlikely that Trump and DePizzo have met one another yet, since this is the Manhattan attorney’s first foray in politics, but that an endorsement from the president would be appreciated.

DePizzo has filed his statement of candidacy form with the Federal Elections Commission; and the committee, Chris DePizzo for Congress has filed a statement of organization, according to the commission’s records. He has taken a hiatus from practicing law to focus on the campaign, according to his website.

rfox@tribtoday.com

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