On his weekly Wednesday call with reporters when the U.S. Senate is in session, I asked Ohio’s senior U.S. senator this question: “Are you satisfied with the four current declared Democratic candidates for governor, and do you think adding Richard Cordray or Jerry Springer to the field helps or hurts?”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is running for his third 6-year term next year and has avoided answering similar questions in the past. So when he responded this way, “My answer will be shorter than your question,” I knew the question was out of bounds for today’s call that centered on two new bills: “The Patriot Employers Tax Credit” bill would reward employers who keep jobs in the United States and pay workers well – encouraging them to create even more good-paying jobs in the U.S. “The Corporate Freeloader Fee” bill would require corporations that pay workers so little that their workers are forced onto government assistance programs to reimburse taxpayers for the cost.

“Have you made a decision on which current candidate you’d support if the field isn’t expanded, and if not, what more do you need to hear or see?” I added, knowing the senator who fielded reporters’ questions from his office in The Hart Building in Washington wouldn’t be inclined to answer.

“I have no immediate plans to endorse,” Brown said, skirting engagement on the topic. Sooner or later and one way or another, Brown’s reelection hopes will be tied to that Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and if TV reality talk show host Jerry Springer or Consumer Finance Protection Bureau chief Richard Cordray were to win the nomination, it would be a game changer.

The current four declared Democratic governor candidates include former Ohio House member and candidate for treasurer Connie Pillich, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, state Senator Joe Schiavoni, of Boardman, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

The four will participate on Tuesday, Sept. 12, in the first of six debates sponsored by the Ohio Democratic Party. ODP told Plunderbund last week that if Springer or Cordray want to be included in next week’s debate, or any of the other five, they will have to undergo the same party process the current candidates agreed to.

Fresh And Vibrant

Sherrod Brown doesn’t want to comment on the race or endorse any of the four Dems yet, but his daughter doesn’t share his shyness. Elizabeth Brown, a Columbus City Councilman, has already made her pick. A couple weeks ago, Columbus City Councilwomen Jaize Page joined Liz Brown – Sherrod Brown’s daughter – to endorse Whaley.

“It’s time that we support leaders who are fresh and vibrant, who will work tirelessly to rebuild the middle class, provide affordable health care, foster great schools, guarantee high-quality pre-K and bring in high-paying careers, not just jobs,” Liz Brown said, according to the Dayton Daily news. “No one quite understands what it takes to get it all done like mayors do.”

Asked if he would attend or watch the debate next week, Sherrod Brown joked that he wouldn’t be in Belmont County at Martins Ferry High School and didn’t know how to watch it. It will be streamed live on ODP’s Facebook page.

Related News

In separate news about Brown’s possible rematch with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel next year, Larry Sabato’s well respected “Crystal Ball” political review stated that Mandel could benefit from two new GOP challengers splitting the vote enough that he moves on to challenge Brown in the General Election.

Brown defeated Mandel 51-45 percent back in 2012, a presidential election year in which Barack Obama won Ohio for the second time.

“The Buckeye State will likely see a rollicking rematch with millions upon millions of dollars spent on behalf of or against the populist-liberal Brown and Trumpish-conservative Mandel,” Associate Editor Geoffrey Skelley wrote. 

Skelley noted that “Mandel could benefit from the hard-right shift that Ohio had in 2016, which could complicate Brown’s reelection effort.” If Mandel does win in 2018, the author believes Brown would “probably be an underdog in a hypothetical 2024 rematch!”

On the other hand, if Brown wins a third term, “the youthful, ambitious Mandel might have a hard time making his third try a charm.”