Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D)

Ohio

N/A

brown.senate.gov

Biography

Elected: 2006, term expires 2018, 2nd term.

Born: November 9, 1952, Mansfield

Home: Avon

Education: Yale U., B.A. 1974, OH St. U., M.A. 1979, M.A. 1981

Professional Career: Prof., OH St. U. at Mansfield, 1979, 1981, 1991.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Lutheran

Family: married (Connie Schultz) , 4 children

Democrat Sherrod Brown, Ohio’s senior senator, was first elected to the House in 1992 and to the Senate in 2006. He is an Ivy League graduate with two master’s degrees, but he is one of Congress’ most ardent defenders of the working class, in addition to being an adept campaigner who has twice beaten well-funded Republicans. He became the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee's top Democrat in 2015.

Brown 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. He earned 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%.

For many years, Brown wore 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. 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 has authored the books Congress From the Inside and Myths of Free Trade.In 2007, his wife, syndicated 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 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. Although incensed at Brown, Hackett withdrew from the race, and 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 was running for reelection in an unusually hostile political environment for Ohio Republicans. There was an undertow from various scandals associated with the Republican-controlled state government, 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 policy. 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.

Despite being outspent $15 million to $10.7 million, Brown won 56%-44%, dominating nearly all of Ohio’s population centers. DeWine carried much of the state west of Interstate 75, where the tone is more Midwestern. Brown carried everything east of Interstate 77, where his high-profile opposition to free trade resonated in the coal and steel counties.

In the Senate, Brown is sometimes compared to Howard Metzenbaum, who spent nearly two decades as an Ohio Democratic senator fighting conservatives and big business and was known as “the last angry liberal.” Brown can be rhetorically combative; in a March 2011 floor speech, he likened the GOP’s push in some states to restrict collective-bargaining rights to the anti-union efforts of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, a remark for which he later apologized. But his style is also often cheerful and informal. He loves to chat about baseball, and he and Schultz visited Chicago’s Wrigley Field on their honeymoon. In addition to his fondness for wearing sneakers (American-made) with his suits, he is known for his voice, which sounds perpetually hoarse, and his mop of tousled hair that often looks in need of a comb. He also is known as an energetic cheerleader for his state, dropping the names of Ohio localities in his floor speeches, and he has amassed a solid constituent-service record.

Brown’s voting record has been as unfailingly liberal as it was in the House. His major focus has been on trade issues. A sign posted outside his Columbus campaign headquarters in 2012 read: “Only vehicles assembled by union workers in North America are welcome in this parking lot.” 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.

In 2009, Brown called on President Barack Obama to take a tougher stance with China on trade, saying the White House should prod the Chinese government to allow its currency to float rather than keep it pegged to the dollar, which would have the effect of raising prices for Chinese goods. He led a subsequent effort in 2012 to try to persuade Obama to file a series of trade cases against China regarding the auto industry, accusing Beijing of unfairly subsidizing Chinese auto parts makers. He won a highly prized seat on the Finance Committee in 2013, enabling him to have an even bigger say on trade matters and providing a stark contrast to his home-state GOP colleague Rob Portman, also on the panel.

Brown says one of his proudest achievements in the Senate was a bill he passed with the help of the late liberal Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. During reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration in 2009, Brown won passage of an amendment creating incentives for drug companies to produce drugs for diseases common in the developing world. Within weeks of it going into effect, an international aid group reported a flood of new TB drugs on the market. He also added provisions to a prescription drug user fee bill that became law in 2012 that were aimed at addressing shortages of critical cancer drugs and other life-saving medications.

As a liberal from a coal-producing state, Brown is a key swing Democrat on environmental issues. In early 2011, when Obama announced that the Environmental Protection Agency would issue new regulations for carbon emissions, Brown said he would insist on protections for U.S. manufacturers. A few months later, he was one of just seven senators to support Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s failed amendment to suspend EPA regulation of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions for two years. Brown was also a negotiator on the climate change bill that the Senate worked on in 2010 but failed to pass. He was the point man for a bloc of Democrats who dubbed themselves the “Brown Dogs” and refused to support a bill without robust protections for U.S. firms. Brown surprised environmental groups in 2007 when he said nuclear power is safe and should be an option for the country. More recently, he has worked to make Ohio a leader in wind energy production.

On the Banking Committee, Brown worked on the financial industry regulation bill in 2010 and tried unsuccessfully to pass a proposal to limit the size of banks in light of the $700 billion government bailout of financial firms deemed “too big to fail.” He called for capping banks so they cannot hold more than 2% of the national gross domestic product or 10% of total insured bank deposits nationally. The cap would have affected three large banks: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase. He joined with conservative Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter in 2012 to argue for tougher rules on bank capital reserves, the cushion that financial institutions must keep against losses.

Brown was a proponent of a government-run insurance option in the Democrats’ health care overhaul. When the public option was dropped because it would have sunk the bill, Brown voted for the legislation anyway, saying it at least contained “good insurance reform.” Later in the year, he opposed Obama’s deal to allow the Bush-era tax cuts to continue even for the top income-earners, but wound up voting for final passage because the legislation also extended unemployment benefits for 13 months. “My principle of not wanting tax cuts for the rich doesn’t help an unemployed worker,” he told Politico. He supported the January 2013 tax and spending deal to avoid a so-called “fiscal cliff,” saying it “reduces the deficit by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.”

In the 2012 election, Brown was the target of the most expensive outside effort ever to defeat a member of Congress. Conservative groups poured $40 million into attacking him, with strategist Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS responsible for $12 million of that. His Republican opponent was 35-year-old Josh Mandel, who broke his earlier pledge to serve a full term as state treasurer by challenging Brown less than two years into his tenure. Mandel raised $19 million on his own and served up plenty of stinging rhetoric, calling Brown’s support for the auto industry bailout “un-American” and labeling the senator “a liar” during a debate.

Brown and his allies accused Mandel of not being ready for the Senate, pointing to his statements that fact-checking watchdogs labeled as false. The senator called his rival “the king” of “Pants on Fires,” a reference to the website PolitiFact’s lowest rating for truthfulness. Brown’s campaign and outside liberal groups came up with $35 million, and—boosted by Obama’s substantial political investment in Ohio—turned what was a neck-and-neck race in August into a 51%-45% win. Mandel won most of the state’s counties, but Brown dominated populous and urban Northeast Ohio, getting 69% in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County and 61% in Columbus’ Franklin County.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-2315

(202) 228-6321

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 713
Washington, DC 20510-3505

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-2315

(202) 228-6321

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 713
Washington, DC 20510-3505

DISTRICT OFFICE

(216) 522-7272

(216) 522-2239

801 West Superior Avenue Suite 1400
Cleveland, OH 44113

DISTRICT OFFICE

(216) 522-7272

(216) 522-2239

801 West Superior Avenue Suite 1400
Cleveland, OH 44113

DISTRICT OFFICE

(513) 684-1021

(513) 684-1029

425 Walnut Street Suite 2310
Cincinnati, OH 45202

DISTRICT OFFICE

(513) 684-1021

(513) 684-1029

425 Walnut Street Suite 2310
Cincinnati, OH 45202

DISTRICT OFFICE

(614) 469-2083

(614) 469-2171

200 North High Street Room 614
Columbus, OH 43215

DISTRICT OFFICE

(614) 469-2083

(614) 469-2171

200 North High Street Room 614
Columbus, OH 43215

DISTRICT OFFICE

(440) 242-4100

(440) 242-4108

200 West Erie Avenue Suite 312
Lorain, OH 44052

DISTRICT OFFICE

(440) 242-4100

(440) 242-4108

200 West Erie Avenue Suite 312
Lorain, OH 44052

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Abigail Duggan
Legislative Assistant

Nikki Hurt
Legislative Correspondent

Agriculture

Tommy Brown
Legislative Correspondent

Animal Rights

Tommy Brown
Legislative Correspondent

Appropriations

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Arts

Gideon Bragin
Senior Policy Advisor

Tommy Brown
Legislative Correspondent

Banking

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Budget

Gideon Bragin
Senior Policy Advisor

Tommy Brown
Legislative Correspondent

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Campaign

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Census

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Commerce

Alex Johnson
Legislative Correspondent

Communication

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Consumers

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Crime

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Disability

Abigail Duggan
Legislative Assistant

Nikki Hurt
Legislative Correspondent

Disaster

Jonathan Miller
Legislative Correspondent

Economics

Nora Todd
Senior Policy Advisor

Alex Johnson
Legislative Correspondent

Education

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Leah Hill
Legislative Correspondent

Energy

Jonathan McCracken
Legislative Assistant

Tommy Brown
Legislative Correspondent

Environment

Jonathan McCracken
Legislative Assistant

Finance

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Foreign

Anna Gokaldas
Legislative Assistant

Tommy Brown
Legislative Correspondent

Jonathan Miller
Legislative Correspondent

Govt Ops

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Alex Johnson
Legislative Correspondent

Gun Issues

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Health

Abigail Duggan
Legislative Assistant

Tasha Lee
Fellow

Nikki Hurt
Legislative Correspondent

Homeland Security

Anna Gokaldas
Legislative Assistant

Tommy Brown
Legislative Correspondent

Jonathan Miller
Legislative Correspondent

Housing

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Human Rights

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Immigration

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Leah Hill
Legislative Correspondent

Intelligence

Anna Gokaldas
Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Labor

Gideon Bragin
Senior Policy Advisor

Nora Todd
Senior Policy Advisor

Alex Johnson
Legislative Correspondent

Medicare

Abigail Duggan
Legislative Assistant

Nikki Hurt
Legislative Correspondent

Military

Anna Gokaldas
Legislative Assistant

Jonathan Miller
Legislative Correspondent

Public Works

Jonathan McCracken
Legislative Assistant

Religion

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Science

Nora Todd
Senior Policy Advisor

Jonathan McCracken
Legislative Assistant

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Seniors

Abigail Duggan
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Jeremy Hekhuis
Legislative Director

Alex Johnson
Legislative Correspondent

Tax

Gideon Bragin
Senior Policy Advisor

Alex Johnson
Legislative Correspondent

Technology

Nora Todd
Senior Policy Advisor

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Leah Hill
Legislative Correspondent

Telecommunications

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Adrian Swann
Legislative Correspondent

Trade

Nora Todd
Senior Policy Advisor

Alex Johnson
Legislative Correspondent

Transportation

Nora Todd
Senior Policy Advisor

Jonathan McCracken
Legislative Assistant

Veterans

Jonathan Miller
Legislative Correspondent

Welfare

Abigail Duggan
Legislative Assistant

Jonathan McCracken
Legislative Assistant

Kia Hamadanchy
Legislative Assistant

Women

Abigail Duggan
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Sherrod Brown
Votes: 2,762,690
Percent: 50.7%
Josh Mandel
Votes: 2,435,712
Percent: 44.7%
2012 PRIMARY
Sherrod Brown
Unopposed
2006 GENERAL
Sherrod Brown
Votes: 2,257,369
Percent: 56.0%
Mike DeWine
Votes: 1,761,037
Percent: 44.0%
2006 PRIMARY
Sherrod Brown
Votes: 583,776
Percent: 78.0%
Merrill Keiser
Votes: 163,628
Percent: 22.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2006 (56%); House: 2004 (67%), 2002 (69%), 2000 (65%), 1998 (62%), 1996 (60%), 1994 (49%), 1992 (53%)

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