Rep. Tim Ryan: It Will Be ‘Very Hard’ To Win House With Pelosi In Leadership

Susan Walsh/AP

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) last year, said Thursday it will be difficult for his party to take back control of the House with Pelosi at the helm.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday, Ryan called the Democratic brand “toxic” and addressed his party’s losses in special elections this week, particularly in the sixth district of Georgia, where Republican candidate Karen Handel and outside groups supporting her bid repeatedly tied her Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff to Pelosi.

“We’re asking candidates in these deep, red districts to battle the Republican Party,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of energy in our base, which is very exciting for a lot of us to see that on the ground, but you’ve got to beat the Republican and you’ve got to carry this very toxic Democratic brand on your back, too. That’s a tough thing to ask a candidate running for Congress.”

Ryan predicted it would be “very hard” for his party to win back control of the House with the constant “commercials that tie these candidates to leader Pelosi week in and week out.” He said Democrats need to work to rebrand themselves and focus more on developing a clear economic message, without losing sight of the party’s historic emphasis on social issues.

Those issues are very important, and I don’t think we should yield any ground at all on those issues because they’re vital to our society when you’re talking about refugees, you’re talking about a woman’s right to choose, when you’re talking about voting rights,” he said. 

“These are really important, but when you’re going to be a national party, you need to have a national message. And what’s the thing that binds all those groups together? It’s an economic message,” he continued. “So, we’ve got to stand for those issues, we’ve got to fight for those issues, but the thrust of our message needs to be an economic one, because no matter who’s hearing you, and you may be with them on the other issues, they know that you’re talking about what they’re thinking about every day at their own kitchen table.”