Don’t bet on Sen. Sherrod Brown making a bid for president in ’20


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown says being president is “not something I’ve dreamed about,” but he’s giving it consideration.

“I don’t have a great desire to run,” he said.

That’s not what a presidential candidate says.

I’ve known Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, for about two decades and he is up to the task.

While he brings a lot to the table, it’s doubtful Brown will actually run for president.

Brown said since winning the Nov. 6 election for his third six-year term in the U.S. Senate, numerous people have approached him about seeking the position.

“I was overwhelmed,” he said.

There’s been talk for months before his re-election about Brown as a possible presidential candidate, but with the Senate race in front of him he dismissed it.

It’s best not to talk about your potential next race before winning the one you’re in.

While Brown greatly outspent Republican Jim Renacci in the Senate race – nearly 8-to-1 – and his challenger seemed out of the incumbent’s league, Brown won by only 6.4 percent.

Yes, Ohio has become a solid red state and the entire slate of Republican executive branch candidates won the Nov. 6 election, but Brown’s victory was closer than it should have been.

He outperformed Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, by about 14 percentage points in Ohio.

But in the 2016 election, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, the Republican incumbent, outperformed Trump – running in the same year – by about 13 percentage points. And Portman was running against Democrat Ted Strickland, a former governor.

Brown did better in this election than he did in 2012 in counties such as Hamilton and Franklin.

But he did worse in Mahoning and Trumbull, once considered two of the most reliable Democratic counties in the state.

In 2012, against a stronger opponent, Treasurer Josh Mandel, Brown received 66 percent of the vote in Mahoning and 63 percent in Trumbull.

In this past election, Brown received 60 percent of the vote in Mahoning and 58 percent in Trumbull.

In the 2006 Democratic blue-wave election, Brown crushed then-incumbent U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, now the governor elect. In Mahoning and Trumbull, he received 73 percent of the vote.

The political dynamics in the Valley have changed significantly since 2006. They’ve changed significantly since 2016 when Republican Donald Trump was elected president, winning Trumbull and coming close to victory in Mahoning.

If Brown were to run for president and somehow capture the Democratic nomination, he’d face Trump in the general election.

Brown has largely criticized the president though he’s had some good things to say about Trump’s trade policies.

Brown said Wednesday that Trump “divides” the country, and that the president’s populism is “phony.”

Brown said he’d talk about “phony populism vs. real populism.”

His Nov. 6 victory speech sounded like a kickoff to a presidential bid.

“As we celebrate the dignity of work, we unify. We do not divide. Populists are not racists. Populists are not anti-Semitic. We do not appeal to some by pushing down others. We do not lie. We do not engage in hate speech. And we do not rip babies from their families at the border. This is our America: we will never give up the hallowed ground of patriotism to the extremists. I repeat. We will never ever give up the hallowed ground of patriotism to the extremists – at the Statehouse and in the White House.”

Brown is liberal, but he connects with Ohioans and would give the Democratic Party a better chance to win in Midwest states Trump captured two years ago than Clinton did or several of the potential other candidates looking to run in 2020.

But you can tell that Brown’s heart is just not in it.

He’s already said that being a senator forces him to spend a lot of time away from home. Imagine having to repeatedly campaign in places like New Hampshire and Iowa, where he’s essentially an unknown.

Also, the people of Ohio just elected him to a third six-year term. Is it fair to the state for him to campaign all over the country when his job is to represent Ohio? Others do that, but they neglect their own constituents.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich ran a quixotic campaign for president two years ago and continues to visit places like New Hampshire, where he was Thursday.

Meanwhile, I can only think of one time in the last four years that Kasich made a public appearance in Mahoning County.

Brown doesn’t have a deadline for deciding whether he’d run for president. Here’s one vote for him not doing it.

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