Rep. Betty Sutton (D)
Elected: 2006, 2nd term.
Born: July 31, 1963, Barberton .
Home: Copley Township.
Education: Kent St. U., B.A. 1985, U. of Akron, J.D. 1990.
Family: Married (Doug Corwon); 2 children.
Elected office: Barberton City Cncl., 1989-91; Summit Cnty. Cncl., 1991-92; OH House of Reps., 1992-2000.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 2001-06.
The congresswoman from the 13th District is Democrat Betty Sutton, elected in 2006. Sutton grew up in Barberton as the youngest of six children. Her mother was a library clerk and her father a boilermaker. She graduated from Kent State University and then earned a law degree from the University of Akron. In 1989, while still in law school, Sutton won an at-large seat on the Barberton City Council and in 1991, was elected to the Summit County Council. In 1992, at age 29, she became the youngest woman to win a seat in the state House, where she worked on employment issues like health care, pensions and retirement benefits. In 1993, after speaking publicly about an abusive first marriage, she worked to pass legislation to protect women from domestic violence. She fought passage of a Republican bill to cut workers compensation benefits and then led a referendum to repeal the law. She served in the Legislature until term limits forced her out in 2000 and afterward worked as a labor lawyer.
|Betty Sutton (D)||192,593||(65%)||($719,608)|
|David Potter (R)||105,050||(35%)||($28,165)|
|Betty Sutton (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (61%)
When Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown announced that he would run for the Senate, Sutton quickly emerged as a leading contender to succeed him. She faced significant opposition in the primary from former eight-term U.S. Rep. Tom Sawyer and from shopping-center heiress Capri Cafaro. Sawyer had good name recognition but struggled to raise money and was dogged by his 1993 vote for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was blamed for sending many of the district’s manufacturing jobs overseas. Cafaro, who had run unsuccessfully in 2004 against Republican U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette, poured more than $2 million of her own money into the primary. Sutton ran aggressively as an anticorruption crusader. She criticized Sawyer for taking privately financed trips and Cafaro for her ties to a federal investigation of former Democratic U.S. Rep. James Traficant of Ohio, who had been convicted of 10 counts of bribery in 2002. Cafaro had been an executive of a company run by her father, who had pleaded guilty in 2001 to bribing Traficant.
Sutton enjoyed strong backing from organized labor, but an endorsement from EMILY’s List proved just as decisive. The group’s Ohio affiliate built grassroots support and sent out direct mail against Sawyer. Sutton won the eight-way primary with 31%, ahead of Cafaro with 25% and Sawyer with 22%. In the general election, her Republican opponent was Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin, an accountant who campaigned for sound fiscal management. National Republicans were interested in his candidacy because he had won two races in a Democratic city and had raised an impressive $250,000 for his last mayoral campaign. Democrats attempted to tie Foltin to Republican scandals in Ohio, and Sutton said there was “rampant corruption” in Lorain. She raised twice as much as Foltin, including more than $300,000 from EMILY’s List donors. The poor political environment for Republicans and the district’s large union presence proved too much for Foltin to overcome. Sutton won 61%-39%.
As a freshman, Sutton impressed Democratic leaders and won a seat on the exclusive, leadership-run Rules Committee. In June 2008, the House passed her bill mandating nationwide access to automated external defibrillators, a proposal suggested by an Akron cardiologist. She joined other Ohio Democrats as an outspoken foe of President Bush’s free-trade agenda, and she was a leader in pushing for organized labor’s “card check” bill, which would bypass the traditional union election process and allow workers to be certified as a bargaining unit if a majority signed cards indicating their support for a union.
In 2008, Sutton was re-elected easily. In early 2009, Democratic leaders gave her a seat on the influential Energy and Commerce Committee. In March, she introduced in committee a “cash for clunkers” bill that would give vouchers of $3,500 to $4,500 to people trading in old cars for more gas-efficient vehicles. The bill quickly passed the committee and gained momentum in late April, when Sutton agreed to drop provisions requiring that cars purchased with help from the legislation be made in North America.