While Bill Bennett is on CNN spinning like a loose top–arguing that tonight represents the end of a liberal “Democrat” party… don’t tell that to the voters of Ohio. To them, Sherrod Brown is the face of the new Democratic Party, and he won with an antiwar, populist, fair trade, pro-choice, pro-gay rights message – and he did it in formerly Bush country too.

As John Nichols wrote in a recent Nation cover story, “If Democrats want to win statewide races, Brown says, they must reconnect with voters who live in places that have been off the party’s map for the past few election cycles.”

And that’s exactly what Brown did. He met with regular, hard-working folks throughout the state who are struggling just to make ends meet – people anxious about ravaged pensions, mounting personal debt, job loss…..

And Nichol’s points out that “Brown’s no ‘back to the future’ populist…. Brown’s ‘we need to make Ohio the Silicon Valley of alternative energy’ pitch has resonated with CEOs who don’t typically talk up Democrats.”

Brown is a decent and smart man who will play an important role in the Senate. For progressives who continue to miss the voice and presence of the late Paul Wellstone, there is reason for hope once again tonight. No matter how the Bennett’s of the world spin it.