Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan plans to run for the open Senate seat in Ohio, according to two sources familiar with his thinking.
Ryan, whose northeast Ohio congressional district is believed to be subject to elimination during the next round of congressional redistricting, was believed to be interested previously in challenging Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in 2022. But Portman’s surprise exit caused him to re-evaluate his plans.
“I’ve been hearing from Democrats across Ohio and the country who are excited at the possibility of picking up a Senate seat that we haven’t held in decades. I have been encouraged by their support, enthusiasm and commitment,” Ryan said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “The U.S. Senate needs another working class voice and I’m very serious about the opportunity to continue representing the people of Ohio.”
Portman’s exit could make the race more competitive, but Ohio has been shifting toward Republicans in recent election cycles. Former President Donald Trump carried the Buckeye State by 8 percentage points in 2016 and 2020, increasing his margin of victory by 30,000 votes.
Ryan stressed the importance of prioritizing working-class voters during his ill-fated presidential campaign last year. The 10-term congressman is also at risk of losing his House seat, which includes Youngstown, in the next round of redistricting.
Ryan was elected to the House in 2002 after serving in the state Senate. He ran to replace former Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., his one-time boss, who was facing jail time for bribery and racketeering. Ryan won the primary despite being outspent by Democratic Rep. Tom Sawyer, who was drawn into the race due to redistricting. Ryan went on to win the general election, also defeating Traficant, who ran as an independent from jail.
The Senate race is expected to be crowded on both sides of the aisle. Other potential Democratic contenders include Amy Acton, the former head of the Ohio Department of Health, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, Rep. Joyce Beatty, and former Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman.
Among Republicans, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, initially thought to be a front-runner, has decided not to run, and Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted has also ruled out a run. Republicans including Reps. Steve Stivers, Mike Turner and Brad Wenstrup are among those considering a bid, as is former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.