Sherrod Brown Embarks on the Race of His Life

Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, has always had the luxury of running for election in remarkably good years for his party. He won his seat in 2006, during the backlash to the Iraq War, won re-election in 2012, the last time a Democrat carried the state, and did so again in 2018, amid a national reckoning of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

His campaign in 2024 will be different, and most likely the toughest of his career, with a Republican Party determined to win his seat and a Democratic president hanging off him like one of his trademark rumpled suits. In an election year when control of the Senate relies on the Democratic Party’s ability to win every single competitive race, an enormous weight sits on the slumped shoulders of the famously disheveled 71-year-old.

“I fight for Ohioans,” Mr. Brown said in an interview on Wednesday. “There’s a reason I win in a state that’s a little more Republican.”

Mr. Brown’s tousled hair and gravelly voice have spoken to working-class voters since he was elected Ohio’s secretary of state in 1982. His arms may be clenched tightly around his chest, but he projects a casual confidence that he can win once again in firmly red Ohio, where he is the last Democrat holding statewide office.

But beneath that image is trouble. On Monday, he had just received an endorsement from the 100,000-strong Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, when a retired bricklayer, Jeff King, pulled him aside in a weathered union hall in Dayton.

Mr. Brown has had plenty of achievements to run on, Mr. King, who made the trip from his local in Cincinnati, told the senator. But, he asked, would workers in a blue-collar state that has twice handed Mr. Trump eight-percentage-point victories understand who should get the credit?

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