He wasn’t Hillary’s running mate this year as some hoped he would be, and he won’t move up to be chairman of the Senate Banking Committee as he hoped to do had Clinton won. Instead of wielding power on behalf of consumers in the world of finance and banking atop the Senate Majority’s pyramid, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, one of the senate’s most outspoken liberal leaders, and Ohio’s only statewide elected official in Washington, becomes the next big-game target for Republicans to bag in 2018.
The new Trump GOP will have two years to work in tandem with GOP majorities in Congress to see that the campaign promises made by the Big Orange Machine will rise like the morning sun.
Hill Or Mountain To Climb?
Had Democrats won five net seats—only four had Clinton and Senate tie-breaker running mate Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine won—Sen. Brown would have forged a new chapter in a political career that dates back to the late 1970s, in the Ohio House, when this reporter, then a staffer to Sen. Michael Schwarzwalder, meet him when he came to our Senate side to discuss legislation.
In 2012 Sherrod Brown took the hit $60 million can buy in negative campaigning, but withstood the attack and beat State Treasurer Josh Mandel by 6 points. With the help this year of tens of millions in negative campaign ads against Ted Strickland, a former congressman and governor, Rob Portman waltzed to an easy victory over Strickland. Portman and his allies relied on the same false allegations used by Kasich in 2012 and they worked again.
When you’re in the majority, stupid, silly bills can easily become law with funding no problem. When you’re in the minority, brilliant, efficient and effective idea will be entombed from day of introduction and no funding exists. Such are the realities of partisan, party politics. All the politicos who promise to fight for you when they need your vote to be elected, will suddenly become captives of party priorities, not by what voters elected them to do.
Often called the new liberal lion of the Senate, Sherrod Brown has a long record in public office of going to bat for workers, women, unions, more fair trade, better infrastructure, equal pay, consumers rights, and the list goes on. You can bet Republican big buck donors will pony up to see him shot down like quail brought in for a Dick Cheney wildlife shoot.
Which Republican will take him on is still a matter of speculation. Will it again be Josh Mandel, the state treasurer, whose Marine combat boots were his campaign symbol in 2012? Will it be Pat Tiberi, John Kasich’s one-time campaign driver who has successfully occupied his boss’s district since 2000? Or will it be Gov. Kasich himself, a big loser this year who might find Brown’s seat the only seat worth competing for, especially if he can’t find salvation in Trump world where he borders on persona non grata status with Trumpsters whose long memories won’t forget how he and his mouthpiece, hired hand John Weaver, dissed the Donald this year.
It’s probably safe to say that whichever Republican wins out in the inevitable nasty internecine battle in two years will have lots of cash at their beck and call to throw up against Brown just like they did last time.
Bagging Brown would represent the elimination of a vital progressive member of the US Senate, and could hinder the Democratic Party’s ability to affect change or direction in Washington for years.
Learn Then Regroup
Ohio Democrats had banked on winning in 2016, then redirecting that momentum to win in 2018. The first half of that plan went up in flames last Tuesday, which makes achieving the second half all the more important and difficult. Another mid-term election is racing forward to test Ohio’s Democrats.
Democrats will need to rethink their approach to voters in two years, based on all the data about who turned out to vote for who and why this year. The state party has the talent, and hopefully the resources, to correct where it underperformed this year as it regroups for a new campaign season with new challenges.
In two years the Trump Administration will have had plenty of time to test itself on trade policies that promote workers, small businesses, and manufacturers. Will Trump be able to follow through on his campaign promise to create jobs and expand markets? If he can’t, Democrats must be ready to exploit that failure.
Sen. Brown will have a good case to make on precisely those issues, based on his opposition to NAFTA in 1993 and to CAFTA in 2005. Bagging Brown could turn into a wild goose chase for Republicans if Democrats have the right ammo locked and loaded.