U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan should dismiss thoughts of running for governor and focus more on his campaign ideas, including his promise to convince Congress to provide incentives for converting the U.S. postal fleet and public busing to natural gas.
Fellow Democrat Ted Strickland announced Tuesday he will not run for governor in 2014.
Ryan, D-Niles, said he would decide soon if he would seek the party nomination to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. John Kasich. Ryan, who has maintained that he would not run if Strickland did, has long been mentioned with Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald and Federal Consumer Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray as a leading contender in the Democratic primary.
Last month Ryan, who was elected to Congress in 2002, was re-appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee. In 2013, the committee will have jurisdiction over about $1.04 trillion.
Previously, Ryan was named to the Steering and Policy Committee, a leadership position in the Democrat caucus that makes committee assignments.
U.S. Rep. David P. Joyce, R-Russell, who represents the top two tiers of Trumbull County, also was named to Appropriations. Trumbull appears to be the only county in America with two Congressmen on the committee, a tremendous advantage especially since they can deliver bipartisan support for local projects.
Ryan has had past success on Appropriations. From 2006 to 2011, when Ryan previously served on the committee, he brought back to Trumbull County $1 million for a National Packard Museum expansion, $1.5 million for Packard Music Hall upgrades, $2 million for Camp Ravenna and $2 million for the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center in downtown Warren. He also came through for other parts of his district and used his political clout to establish the Tech Belt corridor that has attracted private sector investment from Cleveland to Pittsburgh.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows that only 15 percent of those questioned favor Ryan for governor, 10 percent gave him an unfavorable mark and 74 percent reported that they don't know enough about him to render an opinion. Kasich, meanwhile, has a 42 percent favorable rating.
Granted, a Ryan campaign would close the gap and could even overcome the deficit, but that's a far cry from the security he has in the House. Barring any political disaster, Ryan could pretty much keep his seat for life.
In that political lifetime, as his seniority and power grows, the benefit for the Mahoning Valley could reach great heights. Seriously challengers would be so rare he could continue diverting campaign funds to colleagues who would then be compelled to favor Ryan's pet projects.
Among the next items on his agenda should be bringing campaign ideas to fruition. These include converting military buildings and vehicles to natural gas, thus providing a market for the anticipated rich reserves in the Utica Shale. This conversion could be researched, developed and improved at local institutions, and tested at local military installations.
Ryan also said during his last campaign that he wanted the U.S. Postal Service to convert its fleet to natural gas, which would provide an even larger market for the product soon to be harvested here.
Ryan should consider a run for governor too risky, not only to his political career, but to the future of Trumbull and Mahoning counties.