Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan announced on Monday that he’ll run for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2022.

Ryan, 47, was first elected to the House in 2002, representing a working class district in eastern Ohio. The Senate seat is being vacated by Republican Rob Portman, who announced in January that he would not seek reelection. 

“I am running to fight like hell in the U.S Senate to cut workers in on the deal,” Ryan said in a statement. “Ohioans are working harder than ever, they’re doing everything right, and they’re still falling behind.”

Ryan has floated the idea of running statewide before but has never launched a campaign to do so. He was part of the historically large field of candidates during the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, but dropped out months before any votes were cast.

The nine-term Congressman is positioning himself as someone who can win back working-class voters who may have left the Democratic Party in recent years. Exit polls showed former President Trump won White voters without a college degree by 36 points in Ohio in November. A video announcing Ryan’s candidacy focused heavily on bringing jobs back to Ohio. 

With the Senate evenly divided, Democrats control the chamber because Vice President Kamala Harris breaks the 50-50 tie, Ohio will be a closely watched race as the parties battle for majority control in 2022. Cook Political Report rates the race “lean Republican.”

Ohio was long considered a key battleground state, but Republicans have dominated most statewide races in recent years. Mr. Trump won the state by 8 points in 2020. Despite the GOP’s strength in the Buckeye State, the state’s Democratic Senator, Sherrod Brown, easily won reelection in 2018. 

Ryan is the first major Democratic candidate to enter the race to fill Portman’s seat and raised $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2021. Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio’s former health director, was considering jumping into the race, but recently announced she would not run. Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes has also been mentioned as a possible candidate. Democrats will also be trying to unseat Republican Incumbent Governor Mike DeWine. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley launched a gubernatorial bid against DeWine last week.  

The Republican primary is shaping up to be a bit more crowded. Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken and businessmen Bernie Moreno and Mike Gibbons are among those who have announced they are running. Mandel and Timken are fiercely competing for the Trump lane of the Republican Party. “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance is among those also considering entering the race.