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Tim Ryan is dropping out of the presidential race to focus on the House

Ryan’s presidential campaign turned out to be just as successful as his effort to topple Nancy Pelosi.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) delivers a 20-minute campaign speech at the Iowa State Fair on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), one of several white congressmen who entered the Democratic race for the presidency and failed to exceed 1 percent in the polls, has now officially dropped out.

“I’m announcing today that I am withdrawing from the Presidential campaign,” Ryan said in a Twitter post. “I got into this race in April to really give voice to the forgotten people of our country. I look forward to continuing that fight.”

Ryan, a native of Ohio, ran on a platform heavily centered on bringing back manufacturing jobs that were lost when companies moved their factories overseas or automated particular functions. A close ally to unions and organized labor groups in his district, Ryan vowed to save the jobs that President Donald Trump failed to protect.

“There’s so much change — globalization, automation, cultural — I don’t really think either party has really wrapped their arms around all of these dynamics and put a cohesive message together,” Ryan told Vox last year. “Trump obviously did it in a concise way, but he hasn’t delivered on any of that stuff.”

He had suggested that taking his centrist approach to issues like health care and education, focusing on the “solutions that exist,” and shying away from more ambitious plans like Medicare-for-all would be a winning formula for swaying moderates and Trump voters. And Ryan, who says he counts Trump supporters among those who voted for him, believed he could use his Midwestern bona fides to win the general election.

But it wasn’t enough to convince the Democratic base to choose him out of the (very) crowded field. After a middling performance at the early debates and very little momentum in the polls, Ryan announced that he was abandoning his campaign and would instead pursue another term in the House. His trajectory in the 2020 campaign closely mirrors that of fellow Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who ended his presidential bid earlier this year and opted to prioritize reelection for his House seat.

Ryan and Swalwell were, of course, far from the only less prominent Democrats who took a pass at the presidency. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) have as well.

Ryan had made a name for himself as a chief antagonist of Nancy Pelosi

Before his presidential run, Ryan had been known for challenging Speaker Nancy Pelosi for House Democrats’ top job in 2016. He’d weighed another leadership bid in 2018.

Ryan had sought to unseat Pelosi and argued that Democrats in more moderate districts like his needed new leadership that wasn’t viewed as quite as polarizing as Pelosi has been in the past.

He cited Trump’s election in 2016 as a major catalyst for this move, and also argued that power among House Democrats needed to be distributed more equitably. Ryan, and some of his supporters at the time, were interested in advancing younger Democrats from conservative states who hadn’t had the chance to rise as quickly through the ranks.

As part of his 2020 run, Ryan reiterated a version of this case, arguing that Democrats had lost touch with some working-class voters, including residents of Midwestern states who went for Trump in 2016.

Now that he’s dropped out of the 2020 race, he’ll have to keep on pushing his efforts to strengthen the power of organized labor, and to protect manufacturing jobs, in the House. “I’d much rather be the underdog than the favorite any day of the week,” he previously told the Washington Post.

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