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Sen. Sherrod Brown Considering 2020 Presidential Run

John Minchillo
Associated Press
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, reacts as he speaks to the audience during the Ohio Democratic Party election night watch party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Columbus.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, one of the winningest Democrats in Ohio history, says he is seriously considering a 2020 presidential run.

Brown had previously played down interest in joining what's expected to be a crowded Democratic field. But Brown acknowledged in multiple interviews Monday he's listening to calls for him to run. He tells The Associated Press the encouragement is coming from national Democratic Party figures.

"I was hearing that a little bit (during) the campaign but not really paying much attention," Brown said in an interview. "Now we're... seriously looking at it."

Aaron Pickrell, who ran Barack Obama and former governor Ted Strickland’s campaigns in Ohio, said last week that “Sherrod Brown should be the face of the national Democratic party.”

The 65-year-old politician led all Ohio vote-getters November 6 to win re-election to a third Senate term even as Republicans swept other key statewide offices. He defeated conservative Rep. Jim Renacci, who had been strongly endorsed by President Trump, albeit by a smaller margin than expected.

Brown says his election shows "a strong progressive" can win. He called his campaign "a blueprint for our nation in 2020."

Brown's theme has been "the dignity of work," and he said his message has resonated with voters, particularly in Ohio and other Midwest states Donald Trump carried in the 2016 presidential race.

Brown has also been one of the top beneficiaries among all members of Congress of campaign contributions from lobbyists. He has long enjoyed support from labor unions.

In an October 12 rally in Ohio, Trump urged support for GOP Senate nominee and Renacci, who got White House encouragement to challenge Brown. Trump took note of Brown's support of him on tougher trade deals.

"In fact, I just want to think, 'Is he a Republican?'" Trump said to the crowd. But Trump added, "He didn't vote for tax cuts. He doesn't vote for us, folks. It might be nice for him to say he agrees with my economic policy when he's never going to vote for it."

Brown has been sharply critical of Trump on other issues including immigration and his divisive style.

The Cleveland native won his first Ohio election in 1974 and has won 16 of 17.

Brown says he will discuss 2020 with his wife and other family members before deciding "in the next couple months." In response to a Columbus Dispatch article on the possibilty of a presidential run, Brown's wife replied with, "We're thinking about it."