When longtime, Democratic Congressman, Tim Ryan walked out of President Trump’s State of the Union Address, he missed Nancy Pelosi’s dramatic speech tearing, but many voters did not miss the significance of Ryan’s vocal exit. For many voters in our long-neglected rust belt region, this display was the last straw from this 17 year, ensconced Congressman.
[Editor note: Barberton area news and entertainment set a record with the Tim Ryan walking out post: over 800 comments and 100 shares. Most comments were negative.]
Part of Ryan’s job is to attend major sessions like the State of the Union. He hurt his district for personal national politics. Is a Republican Administration going to help the his district, including Barberton/Norton/Akron? It seems our Rep votes for whats best for the party and not what is best for the people of his district – Like many entrenched Congressmen of both parties.
The district is taken for granted that it will vote blue. Tim Ryan’s action,(like walking out) in the past might’ve been pandering to his base, and there are those who may’ve recently cheered him, but those ranks of partisan voters are thinning. Trump won the 13th District in the 2016 election, the best a Republican candidate had done since the 1972 election of Richard Nixon. So, while Ryan is a sure thing for the DNC Congressional ticket in November, he has seen a steady bleed of voters. Now, seven Republicans are running in the March 17th primary for a chance to challenge him, in a district that hasn’t voted a Republican rep since 1982.
Among a small field of corporatist, GOP-backed candidates, an innovative businessman has emerged in the Republican field, to offer the 13th District a uniquely qualified representative. Lou Lyras comes across as a younger man, but he has 44 years of success as a founder of Corcon, Inc., along with his father and brother. Corcon is a bridge maintenance, industrial painting company. “I was the worker, the estimator, everything.” He holds patents in lead remediation and recycling, from a time that the lead paint issue presented serious problems for municipal maintenance costs and environmental harm. Many firms like Lyras’ struggled or failed during that time, but his firm prospered through innovation and environmental responsibility.
After building an award winning, national firm, one would think that it might be time for Mr. Lyras to leave his company to competent family management, enjoy an early retirement. However, Mr. Lyras said that he has become concerned enough with the direction of our nation and region, that he could no longer stand aside.
Funding his own primary campaign from personal funds, even sending a check back to one insistent constituent – Lou has thrown his independant hat into the ring. Not supported by the Republican Party Lou Lyras is not a politician, but a business man and an intellectual, very much against entrenched interests and corporate money in policy. That has proven to be a challenge within the state GOP structure, as he faces two Republican supported challengers in the March 17th primary.
The GOP has likely already picked its heir apparent, judging from its marketing and funding of one primary candidate, who is a young, female, career political office holder. Lou shrugged at this and said his wife wasn’t terribly happy with the costs, but that he never intended to run as beholden to anybody but the people of the 13th District. He wants to remain Independent of national party politics.
Over a nearly impromptu breakfast, it was very easy to engage in deep discussion with Lou. His diverse knowledge of topics from China-centered business negotiation, trade and manufacturing, heavy industry and infrastructure maintenance challenges, intellectual property issues, and – interestingly – environmental issues – makes him hard to pigeonhole, politically. But this is perhaps the kind of person a region like ours needs in its representative – put the people of the district first-in a changing economy.
Likening himself to Democrats like JFK, and problem-solvers like Ronald Reagan, Lou Lyras sees the Democrat Party as lately having gone so far left, that it has abandoned its core constituency. With the rise of socialism in the Democratic Party, special interests, and anti-Trumpism, despite many policies that have benefited Northeast Ohio families, he says the lack of civility in politics and hard partisanship, is one of the most difficult obstacles we face, in our unity and advancement as a nation.
Lou was born in Youngstown, Ohio, to Greek immigrant parents. He grew up in Campbell, Ohio and has lived there his whole life, in a blue-collar field. He knows the people in his town like family and he knows what makes our region tick and what challenges we face. He built his business with a family – now his sons, as well – from nothing. It is easy to see, that to a man who has spent his life working with all types of people and bureaucrats, in all levels of government, and internationally, that he would see our political challenges as solvable with communication.
D.C. is its own bubble, however. I asked Lou, with huge, special interest money funding most party politicians, and even the parties, themselves, how he intended to avoid the temptation of being wined-and-dined, far from home, plied with money contributions for a every 2 year campaign, and trips by corporate lobbyists. He winced at me, as though I had suggested something ridiculous, and simply said, “I can’t be wined and dined. I have no interest.” He went on to say that he had enough self-made success to take himself out to dine!
He intends to descend on D.C. to work with those in Congress of both parties in order to achieve for our region. His worry, he emphasized, gesturing toward the crowded diner, was for the young people, and looming issues of the socialist movement and programs like the “Green New Deal”, all being soft pedaled to a generation who had not lived during the Cold War, and hadn’t studied the horrors of that social system.
As a man who hands out printed booklets of the Constitution and its amendments, Lou’s stances on things like gun carry laws (“We have the Second Amendment. It’s shall not be infringed.”), and abortion law, (“It’s settled law”) were not his primary focus. He is very driven on the national issues put to Congress and facing our region, like trade, infrastructure, and environmental responsiblity. “I’ve studied environmental science and agricultural science all my life. All my life.”, he told me. “We can take responsibility, with other nations, and do the right things.”
He addressed zoning laws. “We, [in the 13th District] have so much industrial land. Why are plants being built on agricultural land, when we already have places suited to [industrial] development. We have to address zoning issues, locally, and work for incentives at a district level.”
In a region of the rust belt, that is still looking to recover, Lou Lyras’s focus, entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge of the issues facing us, gave me optimism. I found myself believing that his message of practical problem solving could make a difference, even in a place like Washington, D.C., given the changing tide of national politics.
Had the populist, business approach that Trump brought to the White House, changed the culture in Congress? As for Lou, himself, even when I pressed him, he refused to speak ill of his opponents. Maybe if we sent more reps like Lou Lyras to serve our interests, than our interests would get served.
I found myself hoping that the people of the 13th District could see this lifelong, Youngstown businessman, above the juggernaut of power DNC/GOP. Party politicking. Lou Lyras wouldn’t even let me pay for his omelet. As I left the diner, I had the distinct feeling that the D.C. lobbyists would be mighty unhappy with the homegrown guy from Campbell, Ohio.
– To learn more about candidate Lou Lyras, 13th Congressional District, see www.lyrasforcongress.com, on Facebook, Lou Lyras for U.S. Congress, and on twitter at @lyrascongress.
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