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Brown set to tour primary states

Senator weighing 2020 presidential run

CLEVELAND — Ohio’s senior U.S. senator is taking more steps toward a possible 2020 presidential run.

Democrat Sherrod Brown announced on Tuesday that he will be undertaking a tour of four early nominating states in the coming weeks.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” Brown said he would launch what he is calling the “Dignity of Work” tour in his hometown of Cleveland on Jan. 30, followed by visits to Iowa and other states in February.

Brown has said he and his family are openly considering a run for the White House, following his re-election to a third term in 2018.

He has said his 2018 message could be a winning one for Democrats.

“The message of dignity of work will work for any Democratic nominee that comes down the line in the next several months,” he said.

Brown said the gains in the economy have not been passed down to the working class.

“We’ve seen corporate profits go up, we’ve seen worker productivity go up, executive compensation has exploded, but wages are flat,” Brown said. “And that’s, frankly, because this government in Washington, and especially the president – the White House looks like a retreat for Wall Street executives — this president has betrayed workers, whether GM workers in Lordstown in Ohio or workers working construction in Nevada.”

He said he began to have these discussions following the November election.

“I said right after the election as more and more people began to talk to me, we began to notice that that national Democrats and pundits, they tend to make this a choice — either Democrats talk to progressives and the progressive base or they talk to workers,” Brown told Hayes. “To me you’ve got to do both. That’s how we won Ohio. You’ve got to talk to workers. You’ve got to have that progressive message.”

His wife, Pulitzer-winning journalist and columnist Connie Schultz, said in a recent interview that the family’s decision would likely be announced in March.

While Brown has not yet created an exploratory committee for president, his America Works PAC launched a website for the tour at www.dignityofwork.com, on which a message from Brown explains his slogan, which he also used for his successful campaign last year against Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci.

“When work has dignity, everyone can afford health care, education and housing,” it read. “They have power over their schedules and the economic security to start a family, pay for daycare and college, take time off to care for themselves or their families when they are sick, and save for retirement.”

The senator also discussed the tour in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.

Brown, 66, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, previously served as two terms as Ohio’s secretary of state, followed by 14 years as a U.S. representative for the state.

He began his political career as a state legislator in 1975.

Having won re-election in a crucial swing state that Democrats have struggled in for the last few elections, analysts have said Brown’s message and support of labor unions could resonate with Rust Belt voters.

The state’s Republican Party was quick in responding to Brown’s announcement.

“Sherrod Brown is traveling to 2020 states for one reason — to promote his own self-serving ambitions,” Mandi Merritt, communications director for the Ohio Republican Party, said in a news release issued Tuesday night. “While Brown likes to promote his fake-populist agenda, the facts tell a different story. Time and time again, Brown has sided with the far-left fringes of his party over a pro-workers’ agenda – he voted against tax cuts, he votes against cutting regulations, and he votes against President Trump’s agenda that has helped workers in Ohio get back to work and provide for their families.”

The Democratic field looks to be crowded going into the next presidential race, with six candidates already announced or voicing consideration for a run.

Republican incumbent Donald Trump filed for re-election the day after his 2017 inauguration and has yet to face any major announced challengers in the primary.

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who lost the 2016 primary to Trump, has said he has not ruled out another run.