WASHINGTON — Sen. Sherrod Brown said a Democratic presidential candidate can win Ohio in 2020 if he or she focuses on middle-class people who work hard but “never get ahead” and do not “have the kind of retirement security they should.”
Although Brown said he has not decided whether he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination, he insisted during an interview Sunday on “NBC’s Meet The Press” that candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden or Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would win Ohio with a message that resonates with workers.
“I think any one of them can win my state if they make that contrast between the phony populism of Donald Trump and the dignity of work and all that we stand for,” Brown said. “The Democratic Party has always been the party of ‘we have your back’ of working families.”
Referring to his re-election victory this month over Republican Jim Renacci, Brown said he won “because I talked about the dignity of work — whether you swipe a badge or punch a clock, whether you work for tips or whether working for a salary or taking care of aging parents or raising children.”
Brown, who has won three terms to the U.S. Senate, is considering a bid for the presidency in 2020 even though he said he does not have “this lifelong desire to be president.”
“Whether I run or not, I am hopeful that narrative, that message, begins to be part of that narrative among my colleagues who want to be president,” Brown said.
Brown has repeatedly said he can appeal to working families in a way Republican candidates cannot. But an analysis of this month’s month raises questions on whether he can appeal to these working people who voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.
According to an analysis by Mike Dawson of OhioElectionresults.com, Brown’s percentage of the vote in predominately blue-collar counties in eastern Ohio has slipped.
In 2006 against Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, Brown won 73 percent of the vote in Mahoning County compared to just 60 percent this month against Renacci.
In Trumbull County, Brown’s share tumbled from 73 percent in 2006 to 58 percent this year while in Columbiana County his support dropped from 59.2 percent in 2006 to 39 percent this year.
Brown produced these results running against a relatively unknown Renacci, who he outspent on TV advertising by a 14-to-one margin.
Brown’s voting percentages did not drop in heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County, but he did lose his home county of Richland. Brown, who now lives in Cleveland, was raised in Mansfield.