Ohio's Sherrod Brown Signals He's Testing a Presidential Run

(Bloomberg) -- Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, says he will be embarking on a “Dignity of Work” tour that will include two states -- Iowa and New Hampshire -- that are first in the presidential nomination process.

Brown, who won re-election to a third term in November and who says he has the formula of how a progressive wins voters in the U.S. heartland that helped elect Donald Trump, did not say explicitly that he would run for president in what promises to be a very crowded Democratic field in the 2020 race.

In an interview on MSNBC on Tuesday night, he said that he and his wife, Connie Schultz,“have not made that decision.”

But the announcement of the tour coincided with his television appearance. According to a statement, Brown will visit Iowa at the end of January.

He also plans to visit New Hampshire, site of the first presidential primary, and Nevada and South Carolina, which hold early contests.

The Ohio senator, who wears a canary lapel pin memorializing coal miners who once had to use canaries to warn them about poisonous gases, has said that his focus on “the dignity of work’’ while not “caving to Wall Street’’ can capture Trump voters and committed Democrats alike. He won re-election in a state that Trump carried by eight percentage points in 2016.

“We will show America how we celebrate the dignity of work, how we honor organized labor and all workers,’’ Brown said during his election night victory speech in Columbus on Nov. 6. “That is the message coming out of Ohio in 2018, and that is the blueprint for America for 2020.’’

Brown, 66, graduated from Yale. But his gravelly voice and often-tousled hair help burnish his everyman image. He has made trade and workers’ issues the focus of his more than 40 years in elected office. One of his first votes in Congress was against the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993.

Brown’s protectionist views put him at odds with some of the party’s mainstream outside of the Midwest, and it’s not clear how he’d fare in Democratic primaries with other, better-known progressive Democrats contemplating a bid such as Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas.

Ohio's Sherrod Brown Signals He's Testing a Presidential Run

Warren has already been in Iowa and New Hampshire. Earlier Tuesday, Gillibrand announced that she was taking a first step toward entering the race by forming an exploratory committee.

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