Political Animal


February 04, 2012 7:37 AM Can we get to 2016 already?

By Rich Yeselson

The Nevada Caucus looks like it’s going to be a snooze. After all the talk since 2004 about Romney’s Mormonism hurting him, he’s got a Mormon premium out there, where perhaps 20% of the caucus goers will be Church members. So let’s use David Leonhardt’s Times article about the potential 2016 field as an excuse for some further speculation.

Leonhardt covered most of the obvious possibilities, but I’d like to name one he missed: Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Within the Senate Democratic caucus, Brown is probably the closest thing ideologically (not in terms of Senate influence) to being a successor to Ted Kennedy. If he’s reelected this November, he will have won statewide office four times in one of the two key presidential swing state. He’s a spectacular politician (he ought to be—he was a state rep at 22!), and his spouse, Connie Schultz, is a smart, witty Pulitzer Prize winning columnist—which can’t hurt his treatment from the media.

Unions love Brown (again, can’t hurt), and he is also a strong feminist and supporter of gay and lesbian rights. Especially if, for any number of reasons, Elizabeth Warren doesn’t run, Brown would be a great alternative to the socially liberal/economically centrist candidacy of Andrew Cuomo.


  • c u n d gulag on February 04, 2012 8:20 AM:

    I could really get behind either a Warren/Brown ticket, or a Brown/Warren one.

    I'd love for Hillary to run - if nothing else, just to piss-off the Conservative freaks in this country.

    And I suppose I could live with Warner.

    AS for Cuomo - I live in NY, and though he won in a landslide (since the alternative was the ludicrous Carl Paladino), we have no great love for Andrew Cuomo here.

    His Dad - YES!
    Andrew - uhm, not so much... It's not that he's bad. It's that he's not great.

  • DAY on February 04, 2012 8:28 AM:

    All that- and he has a great, gravely voice!

    That sounds like a flip quip, but in this Age of the Media, it is a great deal more. Looks, style, and a good hair cut can make the 'margin of error' difference.

    The famous example is, of course, JFK beating Nixon on TeeVee, with the reverse happening on radio.

  • hells littlest angel on February 04, 2012 8:54 AM:

    People who think that Obama hasn't done enough for progressivism should understand that without his presidency we wouldn't be talking about people like Brown and Warren as realistic 2016 candidates.

  • Amy on February 04, 2012 9:00 AM:

    I saw Brown when he came to Maine to campaign for Tom Allen, who was running against Susan Collins. I knew of him and liked Brown beforehand, and had read his book. And then I found a funny, smart passionate guy, reminiscent of Paul Wellstone (but calmer).

    Yeah, he'd be great.

  • Harold Pollack on February 04, 2012 9:00 AM:

    Great to see you writing at the Monthly.

  • Ron Byers on February 04, 2012 9:10 AM:

    Can we win this election cycle before we start the next campaign?

    There is still a lot to do. We have make sure the economy continues gaining strenght. We have to really reinvigorate the Democratic party especially at the state and local levels. We have to reelect the President, save the Senate and regain the house. There is a ways to go before we start worrying about 2016.

  • hells littlest angel on February 04, 2012 10:03 AM:

    Ron Byers: True, but look at this as positive thinking rather than complacency.

  • rrk1 on February 04, 2012 10:29 AM:

    Doesn't it strike anyone as ridiculous to try and have any serious discussion about 2016? Plausible speculation, sure, but let's get real. It's February 2012, the 2012 election is nine months off. Israel is threatening to start WWIII (or IV, depending on how you count the Cold War), Obama's reelection is far from certain, and the Rethug traveling clown circus is at its peak. Plus NDAA has set up the framework for a military dictatorship, the crazy caucus in Congress is considering legislation to strip Americans of their citizenship without due process,and the banksters, along with Israel, still own our government.

    On what basis is any discussion of 2016 anything more than an exercise in mental masturbation? Or indulging fantasies. 2016 may be a very different world.

  • bdop4 on February 04, 2012 11:21 AM:

    I'm definitely a big Sherrod Brown fan, and could enthusiastically get behind his candidacy. Other than Warren, the choices offered up by Leonhardt don't do a lot for me.

    Hillary would be the next best choice but honestly, a number of decisions made under the Clinton administration led us to the state we're currently in. I'm also not happy with a number of positions taken by the Obama Dept. of State, but I would definitely be open to hearing her agenda for a 2016 presidency.

  • Arlington BigFish on February 04, 2012 11:43 AM:

    I loves me some Hillary -- would vote for her anywhere, anytime. One more possibility: Martin O'Malley, Governor of Maryland. Young, smart as whip, right on all the issues, photogenic family (wife's a judge), & plays a mean guitar in an Irish band.

  • TCinLA on February 04, 2012 12:40 PM:

    I could really get behind either a Warren/Brown ticket, or a Brown/Warren one.

    What gulag said - yeah!!

  • CJ on February 04, 2012 2:04 PM:

    Funny this post came out, because it isn't too early to start thinking about this issue, and that's exactly what I've been doing for the last few days. Somehow though, Brown completely escaped me. That's embarrassing because he's such an obvious possibility.

    Among the most important characteristics that progressives should be looking for is the ability to educate and persuade. Brown's strong success in a swing state provides evidence of that ability.

  • schtick on February 04, 2012 2:14 PM:

    I've been sick of this campaign already and it hasn't even started yet. I'm feeling ill knowing that as soon as it is over the campaign for 2016 will be starting. I am so sick of all this crap as are many other people out there. I care, but having it in my face 24/7 for years gets really annoying.
    I like politics, but I like a break now and then. Just think of how people that aren't into politics feel hearing it 24/7 until election day and then wonder why people are ill informed. They stop listening to it.
    Andrew Cuomo? He sounds like his dad, but he isn't his dad. I hope people learned that from the Bush family.

  • exlibra on February 04, 2012 2:47 PM:


    Nope, you wouldn't like Warner; it's just the distance making your heart fonder :) He's like the younger Cuomo, just with fewer facial expressions. And, if you look at his record as a Senator, he's as "Blue" as a doggy ever gets, plus, having been a governor, he doesn't play with others all that well. He's been a very decent Gov and, possibly, as good a Senator as we were likely to get in our purple (with hot red spots) Virginia, but that's as exciting as it gets.

    A few years back, the Kossacks tried to rope him into running for President and made a hero out of him, but I think it was all about his connection to the technology industry (that's how he made his money). As a person, he has about as much charisma and connection to the "ordinary voter" as Willard.

    "take gingbot"? No, thanks; I'll pass on that one.

  • nycweboy on February 04, 2012 3:10 PM:

    Sherrod Brown lacks national name recognition and hasn't appeared, so far, to be especially charismatic as a speaker/spokesman for ideas on the left. I wouldn't rule him out entirely, but I'm hard pressed to see him as a realistic choice that Democrats would rally around in a unanimous way.

    That's my way into saying that I think, generally, that 2016 will be painful for Dems, especially the most diehard Obama supporters, who still have not appreciated some of the deep rifts on the left that came out of 2008, and that have not improved over time. Nor does it help that the Obama presidency, while preferable to anything on the right, has been, in many ways, lackluster and decidedly mediocre. Again, not things diehard Obama supporters like to hear.

    I tend to think it's possible that Hillary Clinton could, if she's up for it, solve some of this. She could certainly ring around some of the more disillusioned supporters of hers, and make a good case for both continuation of good Dem policies while offering a sense of a fresh start. Beyond that, I'm not sure we've seen a national figure who can articulate not just boilerplate liberal themes, but offer some really interesting ideas and proposals for where to go from here. And to my mind that means less romance of academic, airy abstractions about progress and a more practical, tougher focus on the needs of people in poverty, the working poor, and people earning a lot less than $100K. I don't think Sherrod Brown, or Elizabeth Warren represent that kind of need. Nor do a lot of other names that spring to mind.

  • E.Hatt-Swank on February 04, 2012 5:48 PM:

    I moved to Ohio recently and couldn't be more delighted to have Sherrod Brown representing me. (Especially after leaving Texas!) He's just a great, great senator in my view. Reading this, my first thought was that he lacks the grandeur we often expect from a President; but then it struck me that his down-to-earth, "real American" qualities might be a strong selling point in a campaign. Interesting idea.

  • Gary K on February 05, 2012 12:29 AM:

    Yes, "Connie Schultz, is a smart, witty Pulitzer Prize winning columnist," except that you might want to put that in past tense. She stepped down from the Plain Dealer in September.

  • mfw13 on February 05, 2012 5:55 AM:

    I'd add another name to the list: Gary Locke.

    Formerly a popular two-term governor of a swing state (Washington), former Commerce Secretary, current Ambassador to China, and with the additional novelty of being Chinese-American, and thus the first Asian-American to run for President.

    He's not a name being bandied about, but when he accepted Obama's offer to become Commerce Secretary and move to DC, he had three school-age kids which he had to uproot from Seattle, not something a retired politician generally does unless he harbors ambitions for higher office.