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2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Sen. Sherrod Brown Connects with Iowans on 'Dignity of Work' Tour

photo of Sen. Sherrod Brown, Iowa
Sen. Sherrod Brown meets with farmers and small business owners in Perry, Iowa, during his 'Dignity of Work' tour on Saturday. He says he'll announce in March whether he plans to run for president.

Sen. Sherrod Brown wrapped up the first stop on his "Dignity of Work" listening tour in Iowa over the weekend, almost exactly one year before the state holds one of the first major contests of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Clay Masters is a political reporter with Iowa Public Radio and says Brown's Midwestern roots helped him connect with potential voters a little better than some of the other, higher-profile Democrats who have visited the state recently.

“I was at an event with him on Friday where he was hosting a little roundtable with farmers. And he connects with Iowans a little more, kind of like other Iowans would. These people sitting around the table were concerned with the economics of agriculture [and] trade tariffs. And in rural Iowa – which Donald Trump did really well in – those are a lot of the issues.”

Masters adds that the listening tour is a somewhat “safe” way for Brown to both campaign and also gauge voter sentiment in preparation for a possible presidential run.

Masters on Brown's possible presidential run

“He can stand on-stage and talk about the farmer that he met in Perry, Iowa, or the small business owner that he met in Dubuque. And talk about their stories and talk about messages that are going to resonate with people in the audience who will likely be impressed that he’s been in the state and meeting with them. And can talk about issues that are important to them.”

Brown is slated to visit Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina in the coming weeks. He says he'll announce next month whether he plans to run for president.