Tim Ryan is a Democrat who shows how to win back white working-class voters

The Democrats are playing catch-up with Representative Tim Ryan in a tight race for an open US Senate seat from Ohio — with a little help from his party.

Republicans put about $40 million in ads hillbilly epitaph Author JD Vance campaign since Labor Day, for $4.5 million from Dems for Ryan. But Ryan turned the race that Vance should easily win (considering Ohio’s red tilt and the unpopular Democrat in the White House) into a cage match.

Both are native Ohioans, with Vance formed by the struggles of Appalachia, and Ryan by a depressed steel town. But Vance left to make his fortune in Silicon Valley, and Ryan doesn’t want voters to forget that.

Ryan’s blueprint for victory is to win back the votes of the white working class, a segment of the population that strategists once believed that demographic change favoring Democrats would override. Instead, blue-collar, educated, non-college white men – some of whom voted for Obama and then Trump – remain a crucial vote, and a shield against the rise of right-wing populism. Ryan is setting a sign that Democrats should watch out for, even if it isn’t enough to carry him to victory this time around.

Supporters before campaigning for U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan, the Democratic Senate candidate for Ohio, in Columbus, Ohio, on October 24, 2022.

Megan Gellinger/AFP via Getty Images

Bill Galston, senior fellow in the Governance Program at the Brookings Institution, says he thinks it’s a shame Ryan’s party hasn’t invested more in the Ohio Senate race, “because Tim Ryan is showing Democrats how to handle the most dangerous, weak election, on terrain that has become unfamiliar.” for Democrats.”

In a sign that Ohio, once the “perfect swing state,” is now very red, Galston says the combination of Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, who was re-elected in 2018, and Tim Ryan in the US Senate “would send a powerful message to the Senate and Country on Democratic Party Policies and Priorities.

Ryan’s website describes him as a post-partisan populist. He voted with Biden’s agenda 100 percent of the time, and over his 20 years in Congress, he’s gone from pro-life to pro-choice. He no longer gets (or wants) an A from the NRA.

He ran a fictional race against Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker in 2016, and while he never had a chance of victory, it served him well in establishing his independence from the National Democrats. He has written two books on meditation, which his critics in Congress sometimes use to dismiss it as a lightweight in the legislative arena.

“He wasn’t a world leader as a member of Congress,” Galston says, but his most important qualification in this race is his understanding on an intuitive level of how Democrats have broken the habit of talking to actually thinking and feeling. His roots are clearly unchanged, and he knows how to introduce himself as a beer and shoot the man.”

Reclaiming this lost ground is imperative for Democrats. “We’ve seen off-campus voting shift 19 points over the past decade away from Democrats,” says Melissa Morales, principal researcher at Winning Jobs Narrative. It’s a collection of the many progressive groups that help fund and research the formulation of the policies they want to pass, particularly the economic issues around raising wages and making child care more affordable, “policies that would be out of reach if we elected people who aren’t interested in passing them,” Morales says.

She says the research is not surprising.

Ryan talks about “cutting the workers out of the deal,” and walks away from the culture war skirmishes.

Voters care more about solutions than blame. We provide a framework for how to talk to voters about the economy – to make sure workers’ voices are heard. We specifically say, People who work hard, families who work hard. We are upfront so they can see themselves in the message, and they can see that we appreciate and support their work, that we value and support them.”

Bernie Cosar (left), former NFL quarterback, throws a soccer ball to U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan (right), the Democratic candidate for the Ohio Senate, at a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, on October 24, 2022.

Megan Gellinger/AFP via Getty Images

Workers want the government to play a supportive role, providing tools and opportunities, “not as a savior who comes to their rescue,” Morales says.

John Halpin is a Senior Fellow and Co-Director of Policy and Elections for the Advocacy Team at American Progress, a liberal think tank. He says Ryan’s campaign is a blueprint for “liberal nationalism,” pro-worker, family-friendly, and pro-American. He (Ryan) wants legalization Ro And defending gay rights, but he doesn’t talk about the things that motivate the party’s activist base.”

Ryan talks about “getting workers into the bargain,” and walks away from the culture war skirmishes. “It’s an old, tried-and-true model of democracy that has recently lost popularity,” Halpin says. Highlighting the party’s more progressive wing, the Democrats lost white non-college voters, while picking up college-educated whites.

At the same time, support from non-college educated blacks and Spaniards declined. “We’re still winning voters of color, but if there’s any downturn there, the race is tight,” Halpin says. With Republicans aggressively recruiting candidates of color, restoring support from white workers is “the only truly way forward.”

Jessica Taylor is following the Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Report. She noted that Ryan is doing a town hall session on Fox News next week, and that he’s campaigning in areas more Republican-friendly. “He’s running a perfect campaign, but it might not be enough to win in a state like Ohio – especially since we see the environment being so tight on Republicans.”

The Cook Report keeps Ohio in the “Republican slant” column, but if Ryan doesn’t win, it won’t be another fantasy path. He’s at least made it close, and he’s doing so at an increasingly disadvantageous position for Democrats. His party would be wise to watch and follow his lead.

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