Vulnerable Red State Dem Senators Mum on Trump Verdict

Sens. Sherrod Brown and Jon Tester (Getty Images)
May 31, 2024

Ohio’s Sherrod Brown and Montana’s Jon Tester—Democratic senators on the ballot this fall in red states—have been largely quiet following the guilty verdict against former president Donald Trump on Thursday in New York City.

A day after a New York jury found Trump guilty of falsifying documents to cover up a hush money payment to an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election, Brown has still not addressed the verdict, while Tester offered only a muted response.

"Senator Tester respects the judicial process and believes everyone should be treated fairly before the courts, and voters will have the opportunity to make their voices heard at the ballot box in November," Tester’s office said in a statement. 

Brown’s lack of response and Tester’s lackluster comments come as the two Democratic senators face difficult reelection bids this November in Ohio and Montana, two red states where Trump won in 2020 by 8 and 16 percentage points, respectively.

Philip Letsou, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, on Friday slammed Brown for "staying silent like a coward," saying the Ohio senator "has a choice: he can immediately rescind his endorsement of Joe Biden and leave the Democratic party over their corrupt show trial or he can kiss his political career goodbye."

"Democrats know they can’t beat President Trump at the ballot box so they’re trying to put him behind bars before the election—and Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown are letting it happen because they’re too scared to stand up to their own party," Letsou said Thursday evening before Tester’s office released its statement. 

Sen. Bob Casey (D.), running in the swing state of Pennsylvania, has also not issued a statement on the verdict. 

But other Democratic Senate candidates in swing states, such as Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D.), did not mince words in their condemnation of Trump. "Presidents should be leaders we look up to; now, one of them is a convicted felon, found guilty by a jury of his peers. That’s nothing to celebrate," Slotkin said shortly after the verdict.