When it was announced that Senator Sherrod Brown and his wife, Connie Schultz, would be relocating from Avon into the Mill Creek residential community located in southeast Cleveland, some local pundits speculated that there was a political motivation behind the move.
The early speculation among the chattering class was that Brown had his eyes on running for mayor of Cleveland in 2017, when incumbent Frank Jackson completes his third term and retires. Of course, that is dependent on Jackson defeating tan-man Ken Lanci in this year’s election, which is a dead certainty. (Speaking of Lanci, perhaps the logical next political step for the silver-haired multi-millionaire would be a run for mayor of East Cleveland. For one thing, in that perpetually embattled town, his current advisor, the inimitable Art McCoy of Black-on-Black Crime, has serious street cred there. Further, a possible showdown between the flashy Lanci, who tools around town in a $400,000 Bentley, and the gender-bending former East Cleveland mayor Eric Brewer would serve to draw significant national attention, salving the massive egos of each and possibly spawning a reality show for this charismatic duo.)
As for Brown, it makes no sense for him to run for mayor of Cleveland, since he would have to abandon a powerful senate position where he has earned a sterling national reputation as a leading progressive in order to pursue a dicey run for Cleveland’s top job. But that doesn’t mean that there is no possible political calculation involved in his decision to move into the city.
The one problem for Hillary Clinton, the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination in 2016, is that numerous progressives in her party don’t quite trust her. They remain unhappy about her vote for the Iraq war and think of her as an ideological clone of her husband, who is still viewed by many on the Left as having been too much of a centrist and a little too close to Wall Street. True, the fact that she would be the first woman to run for president at the top of a major party ticket should be enough to bring most progressives on board, but putting Brown in the second slot would seal the deal for her among doubting Lefties.
First and foremost is that Brown would help her in Ohio, which alone would make it wise for her to put him on the ticket, since winning the Buckeye State essentially means winning the presidency. More than that, however, is that Brown has impeccable progressive credentials and is, arguably, the most respected progressive Democrat in the U.S. Senate. In addition, though Brown has an undeniably solid liberal ideological foundation, he possesses the kind of pragmatic sensibility necessary for someone to be a successful national candidate. Also, his slightly rumpled sincerity plays well on television.