The House Democrat seeking to topple Nancy Pelosi as minority leader said the party needs to focus on economic issues to win the Midwestern and Southern voters who backed Donald Trump for president.
Representative Tim Ryan, 43, of Ohio said Tuesday on Bloomberg Television’s “With All Due Respect” that “under current leadership we cannot get the 40 or so seats” Democrats need to take control of the House.
“What’s wrong is we keep losing,” Ryan said in an interview from his hometown of Youngstown. “We’re not a national party now, we’re a coastal party.”
“We’ve got to go into Southern states and win congressional seats,” and to accomplish that the party needs a “robust economic message,” the congressman said.
House Democrats are scheduled to vote for the leader’s job and other caucus leadership posts on Nov. 30.|
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka endorsed Pelosi in a Twitter posting Tuesday, saying, “Our agenda is her agenda and that’s why we’re with her to be the Democratic leader.”
Ryan is facing a steep uphill battle in trying to defeat the only woman ever to hold the speaker’s gavel. He has served in the House since 2003 from a seat representing Youngstown and surrounding areas.
Pelosi, 76, of California, has told members that she has already secured the backing of more than two-thirds of their colleagues. She served as speaker of the House for four years starting in January 2007.
But Ryan says he says he’s been getting encouraging calls from potential backers. Some party members have called for younger representation in the caucus leadership.
This month’s disappointing election showing for Democrats, including fewer pickups of Republican-held House seats than Pelosi had predicted, has helped foster that sentiment.
On Monday, Pelosi sent a letter to House Democrats that seemed geared to appeal to those seeking younger representation. She offered a proposal to make the position of assistant to the minority leader — now held by Representative James Clyburn, 76, of South Carolina — open only to members who have served fewer than three terms, once Clyburn leaves the job.
She also suggested requiring each committee to create a position of “vice chair or vice ranking member” to be filled by someone who has been a member of the committee for four terms or fewer.