U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan's consideration of a run for governor evokes some interesting thoughts.
A governor from the Mahoning Valley would be a plus any time, but now that the community is on a strong economic rebound a native son in the statehouse would find it easier politically to focus even more resources here. The Mahoning Valley, after all, leads the state in many economic indicators and has a natural resource - shale oil and gas - unique to eastern Ohio.
Ryan's feelers for governor, though, also evoke some scary thoughts. One is this term: U.S. Rep. Bob Hagan. Yes, losing a senior congressman would be bad enough but a glance at the potential replacements is downright scary.
Hopefully Ryan doesn't jump to a decision too quickly. There's a lot at stake.
The subject has been floating around for most of the year. Ryan has told several media outlets that he is pondering a run for governor in 2014 and that only a Ted Strickland candidacy would for sure keep him out of the race. Strickland and Ryan are too close of friends to run against each other.
Ryan's overtures surely create excitement locally. The Valley's past governors include William McKinley and David Tod, both highly successful. Tod, of Youngstown, guided Ohio through the Civil War. McKinley, with the same hometown - Niles - as Ryan, ascended to the presidency.
But Ryan risks much since he would have to relinquish his seat, assuming he wins re-election this year, to face off against what appears will be formidable competition. In the primary likely candidates include Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald and U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray.
Fitzgerald won the largest local voter constituency in Ohio to become the Cuyahoga administrator. Some political experts consider his seat the most powerful in the state after governor and senator. He has been traveling Ohio this year in preparation for a gubernatorial run.
Cordray was popular as Ohio attorney general, mopping up a mess left by Marc Dann, and entered the national spotlight as a President Obama appointee.
If Ryan would survive the primary, taking on Gov. John Kasich would be even more challenging. Kasich has steered Ohio clear of a projected $8 billion deficit. Ohio is also one of the leading states in economic improvement since Kasich took office.
If Kasich eschews running for re-election, a likely Republican candidate is Secretary of State John Husted. As one of Ohio's most popular officeholders with a reputation for bipartisanship and a charismatic campaigner, Husted would also be difficult to beat.
Ryan has one of the safest seats in Congress and has in front of him a path to the House speakership. If he loses, the Valley loses one of the most influential congressmen it ever had.
His clout has reverberated from Camp Ravenna to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, it has been felt at Youngstown State, Kent State and Eastern Gateway Community College, it is responsible for so much success in the Tech Belt Initiative and in the Youngstown Business Incubator.
Gov. Ryan sounds good for the Valley. But before throwing his hat in the ring, let's remind the congressman that Speaker Ryan is the safer bet, and nearly as helpful for the Valley.