The presidential campaign season has reached a point where each of the party nominees need consider their most important decision of the entire campaign: whom to choose as their running mate for a position that is one heartbeat away from the presidency. Potential names are being floated currently in the media and personal info is being vetted by the campaigns. Both nominees will announce their running mates at or before their respective conventions in July. For a number of reasons, Secretary Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party, should strongly consider tapping Sherrod Brown, the senior Senator from Ohio. Here’s why.
1. Geography. The Electoral College works in a different manner than a typical election decided by popular vote. Rather, the general presidential election campaign is waged state-by-state in a dozen or less battleground states in an effort to win at least 270 total electoral votes. And no battleground state is more important than Ohio. Simply put, because of the electoral math, it is nearly impossible to win the White House without carrying Ohio. A Republican candidate has never done so; a Democrat hasn’t achieved that since 1960. Even though there is evidence that a running mate does not help carry their home state in the November election, it is possible that in a close election they could make a difference. Having won two elections for Secretary of State, as well as two U.S. Senate elections, Sherrod Brown has proven throughout his career that he is able to run an effective statewide campaign in Ohio.
2. Ideological-Counterbalancing. Secretary Clinton is disliked and distrusted by many in the progressive base who support her primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, and who view her as a conservative. Many Sanders’ supporters have indicated through polling and an unrelenting social media campaign that they will not vote for Clinton in the general election. Picking Sherrod Brown as running mate could help salve the wounds laid bare during a rough and tumble primary campaign. Despite being a loyal party insider, Brown is well-known, well-respected, and long supported by the Democratic Party’s progressive wing. He also has high name recognition, not only in Ohio, but also in the country among progressives as he is a frequent guest on MSNBC. Besides being popular with progressives, Brown is beloved by the blue collar and union crowd—a demographic presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has made inroads with during the primary season.
3. Background. Does the person being considered as running mate have the necessary experience, intelligence, and temperament to be an effective president from Day 1? This is the most important question any presidential nominee should ask but often they and the media fail to ask it. By virtue of his educational background, his years spent in both state and federal elected office, and his decades spent under the glare of the klieg lights on the national stage, Sherrod Brown is well-prepared to be president. With eight years in the Ohio legislature, eight years as Ohio Secretary of State, fourteen years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and nine years and counting in the U.S. Senate with membership on some of that institutions most influential committees, Brown’s credentials far surpass that of most recent presidents, vice presidents, and potential VPs being discussed in the 2016 election cycle.
For all of these reasons, Sherrod Brown would be a stellar pick for vice presidential running mate. This choice does not come without costs, however. Brown has repeatedly and publicly declared he does not have vice presidential aspirations and wants to remain in the Senate. Also, were the Clinton-Brown ticket to be successful in November, Brown would have to vacate his Senate seat by January 20 thus almost assuredly ceding the seat to a Republican who would be appointed by Governor John Kasich. However, surrendering one Senate seat to the Republican Party would be worth it for Democrats if it means that Brown could help Clinton carry Ohio and, more importantly, a highly-qualified individual would be serving as vice president. Protestations aside, I suspect that if asked, Sherrod Brown would do what he has always done during his long career in public service—serve the people of Ohio and the country as a whole and say yes.
This op-ed originally ran on Cleveland.com on May 13, 2016, and in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. You can access the original here.