New York Times reporter Sydney Ember traveled to Columbus, Ohio to celebrate the re-election victory of liberal Democrat (and presidential candidate?) Sen. Sherrod Brown on Page One of Friday’s edition with “Senator With Ohio Sensibility May Be Democrats’ 2020 Star.” The online headline: “Sherrod Brown: Rumpled, Unvarnished and Just Maybe a Candidate for President.”
....his gravelly voice rasping out a crescendo, he made it clear where he thought his party could forge its path to success: his triumphant campaign, he said, was the “blueprint for America for 2020.” The revelers roared.
If his victory speech seemed to double as a calling card for a possible presidential run, there was good reason. Not only had Mr. Brown won his third term in this crucial battleground that President Trump claimed by eight points, he was the only major Democrat to win a statewide seat in Ohio.
Almost immediately, some Democrats began to wonder if Mr. Brown possessed the secret to retaking a state that seemed to be steadily slipping from their grasp.
The story came complete with a clip from Brown’s victory speech.
So is he running?
“We’re thinking about it,” he said.
Rumpled and unvarnished -- with a fondness for sweatshirts, less so for ties -- Mr. Brown would in some ways seem uniquely positioned in a party hoping to win back the Midwestern states that flipped to Mr. Trump. Throughout his political career, he has championed populist platitudes like the “dignity of work” that have resonated with working-class voters in all corners of Ohio while also supporting liberal social causes like women’s reproductive rights and L.G.B.T.Q rights.
Ember highlighted some shallow appeals a Brown candidacy might have.
Perhaps more important, Mr. Brown projects a grizzled authenticity that endears his brand of progressivism to even some conservative voters. He talks about how his suits are made just miles from his home in Cleveland and cites scripture at rallies. He wears on his lapel a canary pin that a steelworker gave him years ago and has an enduring passion for the Cleveland Indians....
But across Ohio, affection for their senator runs deep. Voters recall how he has long stood up for union workers. Party officials praise his ability to connect with everyday Ohioans.
Ember glided past old accusations of domestic abuse by Brown, something its hard to imagine her doing if they allegations were raised against Judge Kavanaugh.
On Election Day, Mr. Brown beat his Republican opponent, Representative Jim Renacci, by six percentage points. It was a smaller-than-expected margin, but it came despite Mr. Trump’s last-minute appearance at a rally in Cleveland that seemed to buttress other Republican candidates. Mr. Brown also deflected decades-old abuse allegations related to a messy divorce from his former wife that Republicans have repeatedly tried to use against him. (His former wife, Larke Recchie, has publicly refuted the allegations and has supported Mr. Brown during his political career.)
But if Mr. Brown appears to have mastered Ohio, he has indicated that he wants the Democratic Party to have a nominee who can defeat Mr. Trump. Above all, Mr. Brown said, he believes that nominee should be somebody with a “history of fighting for workers” and “a history of speaking to the heartland.”
Somebody, it seemed, like him.
Ember has a history of folksy, sometimes embarrassing, profiles of Democrats. During the hearings over Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Ember filed a fan-letter interview with “fiery” Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, who became infamous for saying Kavanaugh’s conservative approach to the Constitution made his rape denial less believable.
Some of the tough questions Ember fired and the NYT found fit to print: “You’ve been so busy. Everywhere I look, there’s another article about you or you’re on TV...I’m so glad you could make some time for me in what I’m sure is an extremely busy day in an extremely busy week. So thank you very much.”
Ember was even more embarrassingly supportive in her September 14 chat with New Hampshire Democratic candidate for governor Molly Kelly (who later lost to sitting Republican Gov. Chris Sununu).