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OPINION: Sherrod Brown is the wrong choice for President

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Incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown spoke at Baker University Center Wednesday, Aug. 29 to students and faculty. Photo by Connor Perrett

Opinion Editor Tim Zelina claims while Sherrod Brown may be a strong candidate for the presidency, circumstances leave him best fit for the Senate.

Ohio’s recently re-elected Democratic Senator, Sherrod Brown, sparked quite the buzz when he and his wife, Connie Schultz, confirmed they are actively considering a bid for Presidency. While Brown would certainly be a competitive challenger to Trump, it may be best for him to remain in the Senate.

Brown has reason to believe his candidacy would be both viable and realistic. Brown recently defied demographic and electoral trends by securing re-election in the 2018 midterms.  While all the other Democrats nominated to state office, including gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray, lost their races, Brown triumphed by seven points — less than polls predicted, but still a considerable margin in an increasingly red state.

Not only does Brown show strength in winning over critical independent and moderate voters, Brown also provides a depressant to much of Trump’s electoral appeal. Brown, like Trump, takes a populist tone on trade and industry, a messaging that proved critical in Trump’s triumph over Hillary Clinton.

By running on a similar, but more moderate, trade position as Trump, Brown would critically weaken Trump’s appeal in the Rust Belt, the region whose dramatic flip from blue to red handed Trump his electoral victory.

Yet while many Democrats, eager to find the perfect candidate to beat Trump, are cheering on a Brown campaign, perhaps they should reconsider whether he really is the candidate who should be running against Trump.

While it may be a bit cynical and unfair to Brown, a major concern of a Brown candidacy is what happens to his Senate seat. According to Jonathan Allen and Amy Parnes’ book on Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Shattered, Hillary Clinton strongly considered Brown as Vice President, but ultimately dropped him from the shortlist due to the seat he held.

Why? Because Brown holds a Senate seat in a state controlled by a Republican governor. With Mike DeWine’s win over Cordray, this Republican control will continue well past 2020. Should Brown win the Presidency, his vacant seat would be filled by an appointee chosen by Governor-elect DeWine. This would, obviously, be a Republican.

This means Democrats, already bruised in the Senate by the most recent midterms, would be down yet another seat, critically endangering a Democratic president’s ability to secure smooth passage of nominations and appointments. It’s unlikely any other Ohio Democrat could reclaim his seat: Portman won by some 22 points in 2016.

But beyond the realpolitik of parliamentary procedure, there is another angle that should concern Democrats. Back in the 1990s, Senator Brown was accused of domestic violence by his then-wife. While she has since recanted her testimony, the presence of these allegations is certainly something Democrats should be concerned of.

In the era of #MeToo, a movement heavily encouraged by the Democrats, a tainting of this severity is highly problematic for a presidential nominee. It would almost certainly become a major issue in the election (Would Trump pass up an opportunity to make the Democrats look like hypocrites?), and while it’s doubtful Brown would lose due to this singular accusation, it is simply a bad image for the Democrats as a whole.

Ultimately, Brown has generally served Ohio and the nation well in the Senate. While his candidacy would certainly be competitive, and he may very well beat Trump, Brown would be more beneficial assisting a Democratic President than serving in the office himself.

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