Tim Ryan misses next presidential debate, but has a backup plan

Still running for president, the Ohio Democrat scheduled a fundraiser for his simultaneous congressional campaign

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, has scheduled a fundraiser for his House campaign account while continuing to campaign for president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, has scheduled a fundraiser for his House campaign account while continuing to campaign for president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 29, 2019 at 2:34pm

After failing to qualify for next month’s televised Democratic presidential debate, Rep. Tim Ryan pledged to keep his White House bid going, but his simultaneous congressional campaign is gearing up for an upcoming fundraiser at a Capitol Hill townhouse.

The Ohio Democrat, who has two separate campaigns for the 2020 elections, is inviting lobbyists and others to a Sept. 25 fundraising reception to benefit his congressional reelection bid, according to a recent invitation obtained by CQ Roll Call. The event is also listed on a rundown of upcoming events distributed by House Democrats’ campaign committee.

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Federal election rules allow candidates to run for more than one federal office, though the campaign operations must be separate, according to the Federal Election Commission.

The Sept. 25 fundraising event for Ryan’s congressional campaign is scheduled to take place at a Capitol Hill townhouse on New Jersey Avenue.

“Congressman Ryan is fundraising for both offices — it’s important for him to maintain that account for operational expenses,” said Erick Sanchez, an adviser on Ryan’s presidential campaign, via email.

Ryan, in an appearance on the MSNBC “Morning Joe” program, said Thursday that his presidential campaign would carry on, despite not meeting the minimum polling and fundraising threshold for the upcoming Sept. 12 debate. In order to make the stage, candidates had to poll at 2 percent, at least, and report contributions from more than 130,000 donors.

“Obviously, you want on, but we’re moving forward,” Ryan said on “Morning Joe,” according to a video. He said the metrics determining who is on the debate stage are “artificial” and his presidential campaign had been picking up recent endorsements, including from religious leaders in early primary states such as South Carolina. “We’re working it on the ground,” he told MSNBC.

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With Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York Democratic senator, taking herself out of the White House race on Wednesday, bettors predicted that Ryan has the best chance of being next to exit, according to the site SportsBetting.ag.

Ryan’s presidential campaign issued a statement early Thursday morning saying the presidential effort would continue to build momentum.

“After participating in two DNC debates with the opportunity to speak for roughly 19 minutes, our campaign realizes that there are more constructive ways for us to connect to voters than a mad dash to spend $50 to get a $1 contribution,” said Michael Morley, senior campaign adviser to Tim Ryan for America, Ryan’s presidential campaign.

“While these national platforms are helpful, our campaign is focused on the old school tactics like taking our message directly to the voters and caucus-goers in the communities of the early states,” Morley added. “We have growing enthusiasm for Tim’s platform of being a strong advocate for the working class and bridging the opportunity and racial divides in our country.”

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Ryan’s presidential campaign raised just shy of $900,000 as of June 30, according to filings with the FEC. His congressional campaign had raised about $104,000 with about $40,000 cash on hand as of June 30, FEC filings show.

Candidates seeking more than one federal office during the same election cycle must follow specific rules about transferring money between the accounts, explained the FEC’s deputy press officer Christian Hilland, in an email.

“No transfers of funds or assets may be made between a candidate’s separate campaign committees while the candidate is ‘actively seeking’ more than one office at the same time,” Hilland wrote.