U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a moderate Ohio Democrat from a blue-collar district who has touted his appeal to the working-class voters who fled the party in 2016, on Thursday announced he will enter the 2020 White House race.
Ryan, 45, who represents a northeastern Ohio district that has lost manufacturing jobs in recent years and that shifted to Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 White House race, made the announcement on a campaign website.
Ryan bolstered his national profile in 2016 when he unsuccessfully tried to unseat Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, arguing it was time for new leadership in the party.
But as a white moderate from a working-class district, he will face questions about whether he fits the times in a party that is becoming more diverse and is increasingly driven by its progressive wing.
He is the 17th candidate for the Democratic nomination to seek the White House in 2020, including black, Hispanic and openly gay candidates as well as a record six women. The winner will likely face Trump in the general election.
Despite nine terms in Congress, Ryan lacks the name recognition and support network of some of his better-known rivals. He barely registers in 2020 opinion polls despite recent visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, states that hold early nominating contests.
He also is likely to wind up competing with former Vice President Joe Biden - who is expected to get into the race in the coming weeks - for centrist working-class votes.
Ryan has said he could unify the two wings of the party and expand its appeal in a campaign against Trump.
"We need to think long-term about how we reassemble a new progressive coalition that pulls in independents and moderate Republicans and independent women and working-class people," Ryan said in an interview with Reuters in October.
"First and foremost, you have got to win," he said. "That's something all Democrats need to embrace - we need to win."
Ryan, a former college football player, has taken up meditation and wrote a book on the subject. He also has written a book on healthy eating, calling for a shift away from processed food.
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