Democrat Tim Ryan, a US congressman from Ohio, announced on April 4, 2019 that he is running for president, the latest in a crowded field of candidates hoping to challenge Donald Trump in 2020 (Pete Marovich)

Washington (AFP) – The field of candidates seeking to oust US President Donald Trump in 2020 expanded Thursday by yet another Democrat: Tim Ryan, a middle-of-the-road congressman from the swing state of Ohio.

The 45-year-old lawmaker gained national attention when he challenged then-House minority leader Nancy Pelosi for the top Democratic leadership spot after Trump’s 2016 election victory, arguing the party needed new blood and a new direction.

His attempt fell short, but it raised his profile at a time when Democrats were desperate to connect with blue-collar workers in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania that traditionally voted for Democratic presidents but had backed Trump.

Ryan was elected to the US House of Representatives in 2002 at age 29, developing a reputation as a centrist.

He supported gun rights and opposed abortion, and has been an avid defender of the free market.

But on Thursday, he changed tack.

“I’m a progressive who knows how to talk to working-class people, and I know how to get elected in working-class districts,” Ryan said on ABC’s morning talk show “The View,” shortly after releasing an online video announcing his White House ambitions.

“Because at the end of the day, the progressive agenda is what’s best for working families,” he added.

Ryan said his experience in America’s blue-collar heartland had given him unique perspectives on how to revive languishing manufacturing communities.

“A lot of people have been left behind — and, you know, these are people that built the country,” he says in his video.

At least 17 Democrats, including senators Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, are in the presidential field, already the largest and most diverse in modern times.

Joe Biden is the most prominent Democrat yet to commit. The former vice president leads most surveys of Democratic voters.

Still others could jump in, like Senator Michael Bennet. The Coloradan revealed Wednesday he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer just as he prepared to launch a presidential bid.

Bennet, 54, told the Colorado Independent he would undergo treatment and recuperate.

“The hope is then I’ll be cancer-free and able to move on,” he said.

Another lawmaker, congressman Eric Swalwell, has been mulling a presidential bid, and The Atlantic magazine says the 38-year-old is preparing to announce his campaign next week.

Disclaimer: Validity of the above story is for 7 Days from original date of publishing. Source: AFP.