WARREN — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said the focus of his Senate bid will be on helping the working class and the issues that are important to them.

“When you look at what’s happening in the Senate, when you look at what’s happened pre-Joe Biden and where we’re moving toward now, I think we’re at a crossroads,” Ryan said Monday at a news conference outside the Trumbull County Courthouse after releasing a video announcing his candidacy. “We’re either going to double down on winning the future or double down on an economy that was broken for working-class people.”

Ryan is the first Democrat to announce a bid for the 2022 Senate race and likely is to be the leading candidate from his party for the position being vacated next year by the retirement of Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park.

Ryan has been eyeing the Senate seat since Portman’s Jan. 25 retirement announcement, sending a fundraising email about the position about an hour after the incumbent’s decision was made public.

Ryan said he’s running because “the more you see what’s going on in the Senate, the more you recognize how important it is.”

He said a number of times during Monday’s news conference and during his announcement video that Ohioans are working harder than ever and can’t get ahead. He said he’ll “fight like hell” for them and “cut workers in on the deal.”

He said he’s going to focus his campaign on issues important to working-class people such as lowering the cost of health care, good schools, infrastructure improvements and restoring manufacturing.

“We need a senator in Ohio who understands that we’ve got to work with business owners to help them grow their companies and make sure that they’re hiring more workers,” Ryan said.

Ryan said his campaign will announce endorsements later this week.

Several labor unions endorsed Ryan before Monday’s announcement including the Ohio International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the national SMART-TD union for freight railroad workers, the Painters and Allied Trades union, the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters, and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers union.

REPUBLICAN RESPONSE

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchik said: “For years, Tim Ryan has tried to pass himself off as a champion for the working class. Sadly, his support of job-killing policies show he is just another fast-talking politician looking for a bigger job.”

Paduchik added: “Mr. Ryan’s support of radical left-wing policies do not represent the values of Ohio’s working men and women. Ohioans won’t buy this charade.”

At least four Republicans have declared for the Senate race: Jane Timken, the former Ohio Republican Party chairwoman; Josh Mandel, a two-time state treasurer; Bernie Moreno, a Cleveland-area auto dealer and tech entrepreneur; and Mike Gibbons, a Cleveland-area investment banker and real estate developer who lost a 2018 Republican primary race for a Senate seat. Others are expected to join the Republican field.

Asked if a crowded Republican primary would help him, Ryan said: “That’s for them to decide. We’re just going to focus on the workers here in Ohio, whether they’re black or white or men or women. We’re going to go on a workers first tour around the state and make sure that we’re talking to workers in all 88 counties of the state and let (Republicans) sort that out.”

Ryan’s first stop on the workers tour is a virtual discussion today with nurses and other health care workers in Cuyahoga County.

Ohio is losing a congressional district in next year’s election because the state’s population didn’t grow as much as other parts of the country, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday. A bureau official added the state was close to keeping all of its seats. Ohio’s population grew by 2.3 percent since the 2010 Census compared to 7.4 percent for the nation. It will be the sixth straight decennial census in which Ohio lost congressional seats.

Ryan’s 13th Congressional District is considered a strong candidate for elimination, which could have forced him to run against an incumbent Republican next year.

In response to a question about redistricting pushing him into the decision to run for the Senate, Ryan said, “Not really.”

He was also asked if losing his home county of Trumbull in last year’s House race could lead to people being concerned about the viability of his candidacy, Ryan, who’s serving his 10th two-year term, said, “I’m going to let them speculate. We’re going to focus on what we have control over, and that’s making sure we help the workers in this state and fight like hell for them.”

Since 2012, Ryan’s margin of victory has declined with every race as the district has become more Republican. It was 45.6 percent in 2012 and down to 7.5 percent last year.

Also in 2012, the district gave Democrat Barack Obama a 27-point margin of victory for president. That dropped to 3 percent for Democrat Joe Biden last year.

Ryan has considered running for higher office for several years but also decided to run for his House seat.

Also, in 2016, Ryan challenged Nancy Pelosi for House Democratic leader, losing that effort, and was a candidate for president for about six months in 2019. He withdrew before any of the Democratic primaries because of his inability to raise money and support for the race.

CAMPAIGN FUNDS

Ryan raised $1,216,187.04 during the first three months of the year, including $939,787.04 from individual donors. Of the contributions, 88 percent was less than $200.

It was the most money Ryan ever raised in a quarter since he began serving in the U.S. House in January 2003. His previous best quarter was July to September 2020 in which he raised $586,146.

His Senate campaign sent an email Monday to supporters asking them “to become one of the 20,000 founding donors I need to launch my campaign.” The goal is to bring in 20,000 individual donations in the first three days of the campaign, according to the email.

Ryan’s campaign is being managed by Dave Chase, who ran the re-election campaign of Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley in 2020, with Izzi Levy, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s 2018 campaign press secretary, as communications director. Both attended Monday’s news conference.

Also, Left Hook, a prominent Democratic firm, is Ryan’s media consultant with Kimberly Padilla, Brown’s former financial director who helped Ryan raise money in 2018, doing the same for his Senate race. Michael Morley, Ryan’s campaign manager, is a senior adviser to the Senate campaign.