Tim Ryan Joins Field of GOP Candidates with First Democratic Bid in Closely Watched Ohio Senate Race

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Sean Neumann
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Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call Tim Ryan

Former presidential candidate Rep. Tim Ryan announced on Sunday that he is running for one of the most closely watched Senate seats in 2022.

Ryan, 47, is the first Democratic candidate to announce a bid for Ohio's soon-to-be open seat, currently held by Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who recently announced he will retire.

Ryan has represented the Youngstown area of Ohio in Congress since 2003. His announcement video trumpets an economic message, focusing on job creation.

It also features him showing his young son, Brady, around the Niles, Ohio, neighborhood where he grew up — in the same district he now represents in Congress.

Ryan launched a long-shot bid for the presidency in 2020 but left the race months before the Democratic caucuses in Iowa. He also unsuccessfully attempted to unseat Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House in 2017.

He is one of several notable names in the mix to fill Portman's seat, given Ohio's historic swing-state status and the 50-50 split in the Senate.

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Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Tim Ryan

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images Tim Ryan

"Change is coming, and we're going to flip this [Ohio Senate] seat," he tweeted Monday morning after announcing his campaign.

Four GOP candidates have announced their plans to run, according to NBC News: former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken, businessman Bernie Moreno and investment banker Mike Gibbons.

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NBC reports several other Republicans may enter the race as well, including Rep. Mike Turner, Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance and GOP state Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Indians.

Former President Donald Trump's influence is likely to loom over the race, given his popularity in the state. Moreno hired former Trump campaign manager and White House aide Kellyanne Conway to join his team.

Trump, 74, won Ohio by eight points in each of the last two elections.