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U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown Is Thinking About A Run For President In 2020

U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown (D-OH) leaves the stage after his victory speech at the Ohio Democratic Party's election night event.
Aleksei Pavloff
U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown (D-OH) leaves the stage after his victory speech at the Ohio Democratic Party's election night event.

One of the three Democrats who won statewide in Ohio last week, U. S. Senator Sherrod Brown, says he’s thinking about his next step - maybe running for president.  

Brown says being president was never his life’s goal.

“I didn’t really grow up dreaming of being president of the United States. I dreamed about playing center fielder for the Indians but I think that time has passed," Brown says.

Brown won re-election by six points. And he says he’s being urged to run for president in 2020 and he says he’s thinking about it.

“My victory showed a progressive can win in a state the Trump won by almost double digits. And you can do it by speaking out for the dignity of all work….  all kinds of work whether you punch a clock or swipe a badge or work for salaries or tips of whether you are raising children.  But you can do it without compromising on women’s rights or civil rights or LGBTQ and you can do it without caving to Wall Street or the gun lobby or, frankly, to Donald Trump," Brown says.

If Brown decides to run, University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven says Brown could do something important.

“He could speak the language of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and put the Democratic coalition back together," Niven says.

Niven says Brown’s emphasis on values of working people makes him attractive to people in Midwest red states but he’s still an acceptable choice for blue states too.

“His record is actually perfectly fine for the Democratic base across the country. It’s just not what he’s defined by but he’s figured out that if he is defined on issues of working people that he can win Ohio and while he’s in the Senate, he can vote any way he wants on those other issues," Niven says.

Ohio State University Political Science Professor Paul Beck agrees Brown’s ability to connect with Democrats of different backgrounds is his strength. But Beck says the field for president is likely to be crowded.

“He may take a look at that and say well, the odds are so low that any one of us is going to win that I would simply rather not do it. He is not personally wealthy the way some candidates are so there’s no way he can put his own money into a race and it is going to take a lot of money to be able to win that nomination," Beck says.

Brown was the only non-judicial Democrat to win statewide in this election. But Beck says that doesn’t really mean he doesn’t have coat tails.

“He was not at the top of the ticket. The top of the ticket in an off year, midterm race is the candidate for governor or the gubernatorial race. And usually, the way coat tails work is you look at the top of the ticket, decide how you want to vote there and basically cast that same party vote as you go down the ticket," Beck says.

If Brown decides to run for president, he will likely face some uncomfortable questions from divorce records from his first wife in the 80’s. She has supported Brown’s political aspirations for the past twenty years and has held fundraisers to help his campaigns.

Brown was vetted by Hillary Clinton’s team to be the VP candidate back in 2016 but ultimately, fellow Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia was chosen. Brown says he’s now talking with his supporters and family about the possibility of running for president in two years but if he’s going to do it, Beck and Niven say it’s important for him to give himself some time to prepare for it. 

Copyright 2018 The Statehouse News Bureau

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.