WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump officially waded into one of Northeast Ohio's most-bitter Congressional races on Friday, endorsing former State Rep. Christina Hagan in the state's 13th district.
In a tweet posted this afternoon, Trump lauded Hagan as "an early supporter of our #MAGA agenda who is "Strong on Jobs, Border Security and your Second Amendment." In addition, the president attacked Hagan's opponent, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, as "an absolute failure."
"Tim Ryan, who talks big for the worker, but never delivers," Trump wrote. "Tim Ryan was a failed presidential candidate and he keeps failing Ohio."
Trump added Hagan would be "incredible" for the region, and Hagan later thanked Trump in a tweet of her own. She said it was "an incredible honor" to support the president and "WE WON'T LET YOU DOWN!"
A native of Marlboro Township and graduate of both Marlington High School and Malone University in Stark County, Hagan was elected to represent Ohio's 50th Statehouse district in 2010 before her 22nd birthday and served in the chamber for eight years. During her tenure, she served as a primary sponsor for legislation such as the "heartbeat" abortion ban (which Gov. Mike DeWine later signed after she left office but is being challenged in the courts) and House Bill 200, which gave public places such as restaurants and swimming pools the ability to carry EpiPens for those who need them in an instant.
Hagan was prevented from running again in 2018 due to term limits, but set her sights on the 16th Congressional District seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Jim Renacci. She drew controversy in the race for a misleading campaign ad on immigration as well as for falsely linking her opponent to a man accused of drug trafficking, and wound up losing the GOP primary to former Ohio State wide receiver and eventual U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez.
Hagan and her family (husband Adam and three children) moved to the 13th district this past year, an area that represents parts of five Northeast Ohio counties and the city of Youngstown. On her campaign website, she advocates for issues such as cutting government spending, building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, allowing the sale of health insurance across state lines, and enforcing "God-given" gun rights.
"My opponent has disrespected the office of the President during the State of the Union, stood by as radicals and socialists have slowly taken over the House of Representatives, all while Northeast Ohio lags behind the rest of the country in economic growth," Hagan says, alluding to when Ryan walked out of Trump's State of the Union address this past February. "He’s repeatedly sought other offices, and lost, clearly demonstrating that the job of serving you in Congress is not his first choice for a job."
Ryan has served the 13th district since 2003 (back when it was still the 17th), and the Mahoning County native is considered a heavy favorite to win a 10th term. However, although he won reelection two years ago by a comfortable margin of 61%-39%, that was still his smallest margin of victory since he first won the seat 18 years.
Ryan challenged current Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the Democratic House leadership position in 2017, and last year threw his hat in the ring for the party's presidential nomination. Following months of poor polling and less-than-stellar debate performances, he dropped out before the primaries and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, the eventual nominee.
The 46-year-old Ryan's campaign platform focuses on creating jobs in areas such as infrastructure, actions toward universal health care, increased funding for public education, and tackling the opioid crisis. His website champions him as "a relentless advocate for working families in Ohio’s 13th District known for challenging both parties to do more to rebuild the middle class."
"Tim believes that every hardworking Ohio family deserves a good job, a quality education for their kids, affordable healthcare, and the security of knowing they can retire with dignity," the bio reads.
Hagan won the GOP primary in April by more than 50 points over a crowded field of under-funded challengers. Should she upset Ryan in November, she would become the youngest member of Ohio's Congressional delegation.