Sen. Sherrod Brown (D)
Elected: 2006, term expires 2012, 1st term.
Born: Nov. 9, 1952, Mansfield .
Education: Yale U., B.A. 1974, OH St. U., M.A. 1979, M.A. 1981.
Family: Married (Connie Schultz); 4 children.
Elected office: OH House of Reps., 1974-82; OH secy. of state, 1982-90, U.S. House of Reps., 1993-2006.
Professional Career: Prof., OH St. U. at Mansfield, 1979, 1981, 1991.
Sherrod Brown, Ohio’s junior senator, is a Democrat first elected to the House in 1992 and to the Senate in 2006. He grew up in Mansfield, the son of a doctor, graduated from Yale in 1974, and won a seat in the state House later that year. Another House member, mistaking him for an intern, gave him a dollar to get her a cup of coffee. He later got master’s degrees in education and public administration from the Ohio State University. Brown has spent more than half his life in public office. In 1982, when he was 29, he was elected Ohio secretary of state and worked to increase voter registration and turnout. In 1990, after serving two terms, he lost that office to Republican Bob Taft, who was later elected governor. In 1992, Brown ran for the open 13th District House seat. With solid labor support, he campaigned loud and hard against the North American Free Trade Agreement and championed universal health care. He won 53%-35%.
|Sherrod Brown (D)||2,257,369||(56%)||($10,752,665)|
|Mike DeWine (R)||1,761,037||(44%)||($14,161,402)|
|Sherrod Brown (D)||583,776||(78%)|
|Merrill Keiser (D)||163,628||(22%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2004 House (67%), 2002 House (69%), 2000 House (65%), 1998 House (62%), 1996 House (60%), 1994 House (49%), 1992 House (53%)
For many years Brown has worn a self-designed lapel pin of a canary in a cage, to commemorate underground miners who were at risk back in the days before labor unions and government safety inspections. He had a consistently liberal voting record in the House. On trade, he was one of the most voluble pro-labor and “fair-trade” members from the Great Lakes area, attacking the string of free-trade agreements and policies that followed NAFTA in 1993. He sponsored bus trips to Canada for consumers to buy prescription drugs, and he helped to pass the Children’s Health Act, which created a new Pediatric Research Institute. In 2003, he helped to secure an increase in Medicaid funding. He urged a ban on the use of antibiotics in farm animals, including penicillin and tetracycline. He called for enforcement of laws against importing goods made with slave labor in China and helped to increase funding for international programs to fight tuberculosis. He authored Congress From the Inside, a book that examines why House Democrats lost the majority in 1994. He has also authored a book titled Myths of Free Trade. In 2007, his wife, Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz, wrote And His Lovely Wife: A Memoir From the Woman Beside the Man about Brown’s 2006 campaign for Senate.
Brown long had had his eye on statewide office. In 2005, he at first said he would not challenge two-term Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, which left Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett as the Democratic front-runner. Hackett, who had won some fame after nearly pulling off a major upset in an August 2005 House special election, was an attractive candidate, but there were questions about whether he could raise enough money, and his shoot-from-the-hip style aroused concerns about how he would play statewide. Brown reconsidered and entered the race in October 2005. “The culture of corruption plaguing state and federal government has led our state down the wrong path, and it is time for a change,” he said in a statement announcing his Senate candidacy. Hackett reacted angrily—he accused Brown of reneging on a promise of support—and in February 2006 withdrew from the race. With Hackett out of the picture, Brown breezed to the Democratic nomination.
DeWine, meanwhile, won a lackluster 72% in the GOP primary against two little-known opponents, a reflection of conservative dissatisfaction with his votes on gun control and his role in the bipartisan compromise to end Senate filibusters on federal judicial nominees. DeWine also had the misfortune of running for re-election in an unusually hostile political environment for Ohio Republicans. There was an undertow from various scandals associated with the Republican-controlled state government, though DeWine was not implicated, plus the drag from the unpopular Bush administration. Brown charged that DeWine was a “rubber stamp” for President George W. Bush and tied him to Bush’s Iraq War policy. He campaigned as a populist progressive, calling for an increase in the minimum wage, denouncing free-trade agreements and criticizing the 2003 Medicare prescription-drug law as a windfall for the pharmaceutical industry. While Brown sought to nationalize the race, DeWine pursued a more localized approach. He focused on his accomplishments and his ability to work across party lines, hoping to heighten the contrast between himself and the more sharply partisan Brown, whose legislative effectiveness had been limited under Republican rule.
Brown won 56%-44%, dominating nearly all of Ohio’s population centers: Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County (71%-29%), Toledo’s Lucas County (66%-33%), Akron’s Summit County (64%-36%), Columbus’s Franklin County (59%-41%), and Dayton’s Montgomery County (53%-47%). DeWine carried Cincinnati’s Hamilton County, but by just 2,000 votes; in his 2000 re-election bid, he had won Hamilton by 94,000 votes. DeWine carried much of the state west of Interstate 75, where the tone is more Midwestern. Brown carried everything east of Interstate 77, where the coal and steel counties look to Pennsylvania and West Virginia and where his high-profile opposition to free trade resonated.
In the Senate, Brown opposed Bush’s troop-surge policy in Iraq. “The president calls it a surge, but it’s an escalation of the war. It’s reprehensible and it’s wrong,” he told the Cleveland Jewish News in February 2007. In October of that year, he won passage of an amendment requiring the government to deliver dead soldiers’ remains to the airport chosen by his or her family.
Brown surprised environmental groups in April 2007 when he said, “We should look at nuclear power,” adding, “It has to absolutely be safe.” In June 2008, he disappointed them again when he was one of four Democratic senators to vote against allowing a vote on a bill to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 70% below 2005 levels by 2050. At the same time, he sponsored a bill to increase the notification for mass layoffs or plant closings from 60 to 90 days. In 2007, he and several other big-state Democrats co-sponsored a bill providing $300 million for housing-foreclosure relief. With Missouri Republican Christopher “Kit” Bond, he sought increased funding for research into children’s diseases and for children’s hospitals.
Early in 2009, Brown fought to include in the Democrats’ economic-stimulus bill requirements that stimulus money be used on American-made goods. The provision was included in the bill that passed the House and Senate, but it was watered down to allow goods to be purchased from some of America’s largest trading partners. Trade continued to be a signature issue for Brown. “While they call those of us who support labor and environmental standards protectionists, they call it free trade when they protect drug companies and Hollywood films,” he said. “Now, I support intellectual-property protections. But if we can protect Hollywood films, we can protect the environment. If we can protect the drug companies, we can protect workers.” He co-sponsored a bipartisan bill allowing competitors to bring lawsuits against companies that profit from sweatshop goods, and he sought to reinstate the law, repealed in 2006, that allocated penalties in dumping complaints to the complaining companies. Brown also called for the Government Accountability Office to review how past trade agreements had affected the U.S. economy, and he sponsored a bill to rescind normal trade relations with China.
On the Agriculture Committee, he and Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin advanced an amendment that would offer farms the option of a program protecting their overall revenue rather than protecting crop prices. It was included in the Senate farm bill in 2007. But Brown failed to get $2 billion moved from crop insurance to conservation and nutrition programs.