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The Ohio congressman challenging Nancy Pelosi for the top Democratic leadership spot reflects his party’s hope to retake the Rust Belt by economic populism alone.

When Democrats last feared they were losing the heartland of the country to the Republicans over a decade ago, they responded by recruiting culturally conservative Democrats to run in some areas. Chuck Schumer, now the incoming Senate minority leader, reached out to Bob Casey Jr., scion of a pro-life Democratic family, to run against a vulnerable Republican in Pennsylvania as part of a successful bid to retake the majority. Rahm Emanuel, former Obama White House chief of staff and current Chicago mayor, did much the same thing in the House.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan is doing the opposite. He formally reversed his pro-life stance last year, explaining his thinking in an op-ed for the Akron Beacon-Journal.

“I was elected to political office at a young age, and being raised in a Catholic household, always considered myself pro-life,” he wrote. “My faith is important to me, and like many Catholics I strive to adhere to its principles, especially one of the essential and highest teachings of ‘judge not, lest ye be judged.'”

Democrats switching from pro-life to pro-choice as they seek to move up the leadership ladder are nothing new. Joe Biden, Dick Durbin, Al Gore, Richard Gephardt and Jesse Jackson are among the full or partial converts. Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid never stopped describing himself as an opponent of abortion, he went from voting with NARAL Pro-Choice America 29 percent of the time in 2003 to 100 percent by 2007.

This year, Reid scored a 20 percent rating from Democratic for Life of America. He was once at 100 percent. His 2016 National Right to Life Committee score is zero percent.

Other avowedly pro-life Democrats have mixed voting records on abortion, especially compared to their Republican counterparts. Casey, for example, has never voted more than 57 percent of the time with National Right to Life since winning his Senate seat. He voted 71 percent of the time with Planned Parenthood this year, 60 percent with NARAL last year.

Pelosi’s challenger followed a similar trajectory. Ryan voted with NARAL Pro-Choice America 100 percent of the time in 2011 — a full four years before he described himself as changing his position on abortion. First elected in 2002, he did support pro-life legislation earlier in his career.

What’s different about Ryan is win or lose, he represents a new Democratic strategy of trying to win over working-class voters on economic issues alone — trade, minimum wage, family leave, Wall Street regulations — without any meaningful concessions to their social conservatism.

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Democrats lost Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ryan’s Ohio in this year’s presidential election. They also managed to win union households by just 8 points, their worst showing in 20 years. Non-college whites voted Republican by nearly 40 points.

The model for Democrats winning back the Rust Belt is closer to Bernie Sanders than Bob Casey’s father, who was denied a speaking slot at the 1992 Democratic National Convention over his pro-life views and whose name is on that year’s Supreme Court decision expanding state powers to restrict abortion. The case was a dispute over pro-life bills the elder Bob Casey had signed into law as governor of Pennsylvania.

For Ryan, the role model might be longtime Ohio Rep. Jim Traficant. Ryan is a former Traficant aide and succeeded him in the House after he was imprisoned for corruption. Traficant was more socially conservative than the average Democrat, but he was also a dedicated economic populist. As Mahoning County sheriff, he sometimes refused to enforce foreclosure orders against struggling families, even under threat of being jailed. The area was depressed to due to the decline in manufacturing.

Ryan has publicly acknowledged the long odds he faces in his candidacy for House minority leader, comparing it to the Biblical battle between David and Goliath. The former high school football player has likened it to changing quarterbacks after too many interceptions.

Except Ryan isn’t referring to troubled New York Jets signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick but Pelosi, the first woman to serve as speaker of the House. It is unlikely Ryan will beat Pelosi. It is even less likely that the Democrats’ pitch to Rust Belt voters they lost to Donald Trump will look much different, or more socially conservative, under either Pelosi or Ryan.

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