Ohio Democrat Announces Challenge to Nancy Pelosi for House Minority Leader

Tim Ryan has represented Ohio's 13th district since he took office in 2003.

November 17, 2016, 3:52 PM

— -- Representative Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, will challenge Nancy Pelosi, D-California, for House minority leader. After weighing the possibility all week, he announced his decision in a letter to colleagues this afternoon.

“I have spent countless hours meeting and talking to Members of our Caucus, and the consensus is clear. What we are doing right now is not working,” he wrote. Ryan has represented Ohio's 13th district since he took office in 2003. (The district was previously numbered the 17th district.)

“While having a position in Democratic Leadership has never been my life’s ambition, after this election I believe we all need to re-evaluate our roles within the Caucus, the Democratic Party, and our country. That is why I am announcing my run for Minority Leader of the Democratic Caucus and humbly request your support,” his letter continued.

Pelosi has served as the Democrats' leader in the House for 12 years and yesterday formally announced that she would seek the post again. In her letter, she boasted of enjoying the support of two-thirds of her caucus.

“I've regularly had some opponents,” Pelosi said during a press conference today, ahead of Ryan’s final announcement. She added, "House Democrats must be unified, strategic, and unwavering."

During an interview with ABC News Wednesday, Ryan said he did not blame Pelosi for the last week’s election results, but that the focus moving forward, he believed, should be on picking up red districts and reconnecting with blue-collar workers.

"Donald Trump is the president, that is how bad we are out of touch, that the backbone of our party went and voted for Donald Trump, and I say that’s out fault,” he said.

“Clearly we have got to do something much different,” Ryan added. “We have to connect to these working-class voters and we have a broad coalition.”

"My family and friends work in steel mills, they work in auto plants they work in factories.... We need to stop talking to these people like we are better than them,” he went on. "If we want to resurrect that blue wall that we thought we had in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, we've got to get back to those people and connect with them in a very deep and intimidate way,” Ryan said.

Aides in the more political wing of the party had been preparing for the likelihood that someone would issue a formal challenge to Pelosi. There was an understanding that younger members of the caucus wanted someone to run.

Still, the move is politically risky. As one DNC staffer put it: “If you aim for the king, you best not miss.”

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