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Congressman Considering Rob Portman Challenge in 2016

Ryan is a Democrat from northeast Ohio. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Ryan is a Democrat from northeast Ohio. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan said he is considering a challenge to Republican Sen. Rob Portman in 2016.  

“We’re certainly looking very closely at it,” the Democrat told CQ Roll Call in a Wednesday phone interview.  

Earlier this week, Portman announced he would seek  re-election, foregoing a bid for president. His declaration marked good news for Senate Republicans, who view him as the top contender to keep his seat in the GOP’s hands in 2016. Portman boasts a formidable fundraising network and, as of the end of September, had $5.5 million in his campaign coffers.  

Ryan had $441,000 as of his most recent filing but said he felt he could compete with Portman. “I think the resources would be there,” he said, adding that he had been “cultivating relationships around the country for the past couple of years.”  

“We’ve had people from not just Ohio but from around the country who have been interested in helping us do that,” Ryan said. “They want to be helpful. A lot of people who are involved in fundraising and active within the party have been thinking about me doing this for a little while.”  

He said he had discussed the Senate bid with Ohioans, plus contacts on the west coast and in New York, two major fundraising destinations for candidates.  

Ryan isn’t the only Ohio Democrat to confirm his or her interest in the race.  

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman announced last month he will not seek re-election and is reportedly  considering a bid for Senate. Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld confirmed he’s looking at the race too. 

Democrats have named other potential Portman challengers, including former Gov. Ted Strickland and Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former state treasurer.

Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, told CQ Roll Call said she had “no interest in running for the U.S. Senate,” and Coleman “would make a great candidate.” But, she added, at this point she was not backing any particular candidate.

For his part, Ryan said he had no timeline yet for the decision. He added he liked Portman personally and “any campaign against him would need to be on the issues.”

Ryan said he would support a “pro-growth agenda,” citing the economic development of Youngstown, one of the population centers in his district, as a model for success of the entire state. He pointed to a new steel mill, a successful business incubator, and the president’s first manufacturing institute, which is located there.

“We know how to do the public-private partnerships that grow the economy,” Ryan said, emphasizing the importance of public investment to help spur private sector growth.

The race could end up looking very different for Democrats if Portman is picked as the vice presidential nominee. He was on the short list for the job in 2012 and will likely be in the running again this cycle.

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