Full disclosure: I was born and bred in Ohio, where I continue to live and vote. I’ve seen our U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown, up close since he was elected in 2006 and before that when he served in the House of Representatives for seven terms.
While some might make the case that being from the Buckeye State disqualifies me from making an objective argument in favor of his candidacy, I’d argue just the opposite.
It is exactly because I’ve observed Brown up close representing this state – seeing him literally walk the walk in his fight for everyday people – that I am convinced he would be just as appealing and effective across the country as he is in Ohio, a state Trump carried in 2016 by eight points.
In the 2018 midterm elections, while Democratic candidates in Ohio lost up and down the ballot, Brown coasted easily to his third Senate term by about seven percentage points over Trump-endorsed Republican Jim Renacci.
Not only would the popular Ohio Senator be poised to bring the Buckeye State back into the Democratic column, but he could appeal to voters in other key Midwestern states – Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania come to mind – who either stayed home in 2016 or swung to Trump after voting for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
An unabashed progressive who can win in the heartland
There are a lot of Democratic primary voters who think it’s a mistake to overanalyze the results in 2016, and they make valid arguments.
After all, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and she was only denied the presidency because of 77,000 votes across the three aforementioned midwestern states – and, of course, a big assist from Russia and former FBI director James Comey.
But there is still no question that without the midwest in his column, Donald Trump will lose in 2020. And who better to expose Trump’s phony “America First” con in the heartland than Sherrod Brown, a man who only wears American-made suits?
It’s also a false choice to suggest that in 2020 Democrats must choose between a strong progressive candidate – someone who can appeal to base voters and coastal liberals – and a nominee who can win over blue-collar voters in the midwest.
Through his long career in public service, winning 10 straight elections in Ohio, Sherrod Brown has shown that it’s possible to win on a message of social equality and economic opportunity. It’s a message that has resonated with liberals in Cleveland and factory workers in Youngstown.
You don’t have to act like Donald Trump or compromise your progressive values to win in places dubbed “Trump country” by the media, and the Ohio Senator has proven that for decades.
As the Ohio senator said recently, “Some national Democrats, they’ve created this sort of binary choice that you speak to the progressive base or you talk to working-class voters of all races. I don’t think it’s an either/or, I think you do both. That’s how you win in the heartland.”
It’s the message he delivered on Thursday when he spoke to voters in Iowa.
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) February 1, 2019
Brown is hoping this will resonate as he continues to tour early primary states ahead of the launch of his possible candidacy. If he is given a fair hearing by voters and the media, I have a feeling it will.
Any Democrat would be better than Donald Trump
Of course, this is not an endorsement – just an acknowledgment that Sherrod Brown should be given more attention by the media and Democratic primary voters than he is currently getting.
There are a handful of Democratic candidates that could represent the party well and defeat Donald Trump in 2020.
Former Vice President Joe Biden would have widespread appeal across the midwest, and people – Republicans and Democrats – generally like him. Having served under the popular and dearly missed Barack Obama wouldn’t hurt his chances either.
Beto O’Rourke, who nearly unseated GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, has inspired and energized voters in a way we haven’t since, well, Barack Obama’s campaign for president.
Sen. Kamala Harris has also gotten a jolt of momentum following her successful campaign launch earlier this month.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, among others, could also make strong nominees to carry the party torch into 2020.
Any of these candidates – and a whole bunch I haven’t mentioned – would be formidable. All of them would make a better president than Donald Trump.
But Democratic primary voters would be smart to put Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown – a man uniquely qualified to expose the fraud of Trumpism – near the top of their personal shortlist in 2020.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.