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Tim Ryan battles to reach Ohio’s exhausted majority

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

Seven months before the November election, it’s too early to tell if Ryan’s playbook is working. Interviews with voters, former elected officials and community leaders in Niles, Warren and other towns in the industrial region known as the Mahoning Valley showed just how difficult midterms will be for Democrats and for Mr Ryan. His message about jobs and the economy clashes with the prices working-class voters pay at the grocery store and at the gas pump.

Many Republican voters in this part of the Mahoning Valley were quick to dismiss any Democrat as unviable, citing gas prices, inflation, and the US-Mexico border as Democratic issues requiring Republican solutions. Democrats tended to be split between those who supported Mr. Ryan and those who feared he was too much of a part of the Democratic establishment. Even anti-Trump voters have been in an anti-establishment mood.

Outside the Hot Dog Shoppe in Warren, Royce VanDervort, 76, who worked for the Packard Electrical Division of General Motors, said he understood why people were getting tired of the Democratic political machine amid the shutdowns factories and job losses, but was surprised at how strong and enduring Trump’s appeal was. He is a die-hard Democrat and has said he supports Mr Ryan. “Too old to change now,” he added.

But Mr VanDervort’s friend and neighbor Dennis Garito, 57, was the kind of voter Mr Ryan was trying to win back. A retired manufacturing worker and Democrat for 35 years, Mr. Garito now describes himself as an independent. On the one hand, he said, he worries that Mr. Ryan and other Democrats have lost touch with the people they represent. On the other, he’s had enough of far-right Republicans arguing, he said, like “fighting children.”

He plans to vote for Mr. Ryan in the Democratic primary in May. But if an anti-Trump Republican, State Sen. Matt Dolan, wins the Republican primary and runs for office in November, Mr. Ryan will likely lose Mr. Garito’s vote. “If it’s between Dolan and Ryan, I’m probably going to vote for Dolan,” Mr. Garito said. Mr Ryan, he added, had become “too much of a career politician”.


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