3. Sherrod Brown
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) (brown.senate.gov)
Brown has a long history of service in Ohio, beginning with an election to the state House in the mid-seventies when Brown was just 21 years of age. He’s since become a consistent vote for progressive principles in Congress and today is serving his first term in the Senate. But Brown isn’t well known among the masses and hardly carries the national profile possessed by some of the other political figures on this list.
Yeas: Brown is a populist at heart when it comes to economic and trade issues. As a House member, Brown represented Northeastern Ohio, where the economy suffered severely following the collapse of the steel industry. That’s one reason why Brown has been such a strong voice in trade debates. Brown stood up to President Clinton to oppose the North American Free Trade Agreement and voted against many other trade policies he believes harm the nation’s economy. Brown has long championed the fight for the middle class and receives consistent high scores from the AFL-CIO and other labor organizations. Brown also conveys an image as a “regular guy” with his plain-talking manner and his oft-mentioned love of America’s favorite pastime: baseball.
Nays: Brown doesn’t fit the populist mode when it comes to background. He grew up the son of a doctor in Mansfield, Ohio. He holds two master’s degrees, one of which he earned at Yale University. He also worked as a college instructor. But barring a non-populist image, Brown has no major strikes against him — only, perhaps that he’s not a national figure.
Next: 2. Dick Durbin