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Ryan was born and raised in northeastern Ohio in 1973. He played football in high school and was recruited to play for Youngstown State University. Because of a knee injury, however, he transferred to Bowling Green State University, near Toledo. After graduating from college, Ryan earned a J.D. from the University of New Hampshire and worked in the office of longtime Ohio Congressman James Traficant, who was expelled from the House after being convicted of numerous counts of tax evasion, bribery and racketeering. At age 26, Ryan was elected to Ohio's state senate. When his old boss Tradicant became embroiled in scandal, Ryan ran an underdog campaign to fill his seat and won. At 29, he was the youngest member of Congress when he was sworn in 2003. Although he has served eight terms in the House, Ryan gained notoriety following Mr. Trump's unexpected election in November 2016. Citing Democrats' loss of Midwestern states during the election -- as well as the lack of youth in the party's leadership -- Ryan launched an unsuccessful bid to replace Nancy Pelosi, then House Minority Leader. After Democrats retook control of the House during the 2018 November midterm elections, the Ohio lawmaker again called for someone to replace Pelosi. Ryan, however, ultimately backed her bid to reclaim the speaker's gavel.
Ryan has not staked out a clear ideological agenda during his 15 years in Congress. He is not a member of any of the major Democratic caucuses in the House, like the pro-business New Democrat Coalition or the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He once earned an "A" rating from the National Rife Association (NRA) and has broken with his party to support fracking measures favored by Republicans. But Ryan has also been supportive of progressive proposals like "Medicare for all."
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