Tim Ryan struggles to reach Ohio’s tired majority

Mr Ryan condemned the anti-Asian violence but said he was talking specifically about the Chinese Communist Party’s government policies, which have hurt Ohio workers, and that he was not backing down.

Seven months before the November election, it was too early to say whether Ryan Playbook was working. Interviews with voters, former elected officials and community leaders in Niles, Warren and other cities in the industrial zone known as the Mahoning Valley showed just how difficult the interim term would be for Democrats and for Mr. Ryan. His job-and-economy message clashes with working-class voters paying prices at grocery stores and gas pumps.

Many Republican voters in this part of the Mahoning Valley needed a quick solution to dismiss any Democrat as unusable, citing gas prices, inflation, and the U.S.-Mexico border as democratic issues. Democrats tended to be divided between those who supported Mr. Ryan and those who became too much part of the Democratic establishment. Even anti-Trump voters have anti-Establishment minds.

Outside Warren’s hot dog shop, Royce Vandervart, 76, who worked for the Packard Electric division at General Motors, said he understood why people were tired of the democratic political machine between closing factories and losing jobs, but was surprised at how powerful it was. And Trump’s appeal has been tolerated. He is a staunch Democrat and says he supports Mr. Ryan. “It’s too old to change now,” he added.

But Mr. Vandervart’s friend and neighbor, Dennis Garrito, 57, was such a voter that Mr. Ryan was trying to win again. A retired Banuat worker and a Democrat for 35 years, Mr. Garrito now describes himself as an independent. On the one hand, he said he was concerned that Mr. Ryan and other Democrats had lost contact with the people who represented them. On the other hand, he says, like “fighting kids,” he’s sick of the far-right Republicans who argue.

He plans to vote for Mr. Ryan in the Democratic primary in May. But if an anti-Trump Republican, State Senator Matt Dolan, wins the Republican primary and makes it to the ballot in November, Mr. Ryan will likely lose Mr. Garrito’s vote. “If it comes down to Dolan and Ryan, I’m probably going to vote for Dolan,” Mr Garrito said. Mr Ryan, he added, has become “a politician with too many careers”.

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