A look down the win-loss column of the Mahoning Valley shows that we are short a few victories lately – and probably short a few for the better part of half a century.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s entry into the 2020 presidential race Thursday can become a great win for the Valley – whether it lasts eight or so months or, well sure, eight or so years.
That latter possibility prompted this from a Republican friend:
“Do you know how many political nobodies have come out of nowhere to win?”
He rattled off Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump.
He could not avoid a dose of Republican disdain and hometown dismissal of Ryan while he chalked off the names. But, the concern in his eyes testified to the possibilities coming from Ryan’s news last week.
One possibility I like most is the chance at the narrative it gives us to the nation and us to our young kids:
A person from the Valley could and would run for the most powerful position on the planet.
It’s a run in a legitimate way – with face time on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, in The Washington Post, etc.
How is this not a good thing for us?
Even a co-worker who was and is very tepid on Ryan’s candidacy – mainly from an odds and probability standpoint – came around by week’s end to ponder good opportunities of his candidacy. His take: I want this to be good for the region, regardless of the outcome.
And that’s where I think and hope that however you’ve voted in the Valley during your life, you pause and grasp for a bit of what this could be.
We have deep takes on what is right for our country and government – whether it’s about taxes or abortion or tariffs.
But of all the things we could agree or disagree on, too compelling to ignore is to have a president who knows the beauty when a bad cover-band singer starts strumming to the words, “Here in Northeast Ohio, back in 1803 ...”
Is a Ryan presidency impossible? It’s lofty, I’d say. But if you have the courage to step into any new venture, you embrace possibilities, not impossibilities.
The possibility for Ryan and Democrats is this: President Trump has the job by about 75,000 Americans – 45,000 people in Pennsylvania, 20,000 people in Wisconsin, and 11,000 people in Michigan.
Elections are a numbers game, and these are the first such numbers to weigh (sure – dollars are key, too). The 75,000 is a small number.
In Ryan’s first week, those states are what you’ve heard in his chatter. Political media professionals sizing up the Democratic lineup prior to last week have consistently echoed, “But what is the answer for the Midwest?” Well, here ya go.
The other thinking is that if presidency is not a result for Ryan, then the geography and needs point to an opportunity as a vice presidential possibility.
I know Ryan well enough to share a laugh and a beer. But we’ve not had deep, burning personal or professional exchanges.
But I’m comfortable that I know life well enough to think this is a generational opportunity for all in the Valley.
Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.