- Born: January 22, 1953
- Family: Married, Donna Chabot; two children
- Religion: Roman Catholic
- Education: College of William & Mary, B.A., 1975; Northern Kentucky University, J.D., 1978
- Career: Lawyer, Neighborhood Law Practice, 1978-94; teacher, St. Joseph School, 1975-76
- Elected Office: U.S. House 1995-2009; Hamilton County Commission, 1990-94; Cincinnati City Council, 1985-90
Republican Steve Chabot won his old House seat back by beating Democrat Steve Driehaus, who had ousted Chabot from the Cincinnati-based seat two years ago. Driehaus had trouble generating much voter excitement for his reelection, and in October the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pulled the plug on further spending on television ads for him.
Chabot grew up in the Cincinnati area and graduated from La Salle High School, where he became interested in politics. He says he “got the bug” after serving on the student council. Then came the Watergate scandal. “A lot of people my age got turned off from politics because of all that,” Chabot said. “I wasn’t that way. I thought we needed honest people in government.” He went on to earn a degree in history and physical education from the College of William & Mary. He then took night classes at Northern Kentucky University while teaching at an elementary school during the day. Chabot won a seat on the Cincinnati City Council, where he served for four years; he followed that with a four-year stint on the Hamilton County Commission. During that time, Chabot said, he tried to find innovative ways to reduce the cost of government, such as using jail inmates for public service.
In 1994, he was among the conservative Republicans who successfully ran for Congress and ended 40 years of Democratic control of the House. In his 14 years on Capitol Hill, Chabot took principled and politically risky stands opposing federal spending on projects in his district and was a conservative leader on social issues, particularly abortion rights. In 2003, he helped enact a ban on “partial-birth” abortions, and he also pushed a bill to prevent minors from crossing state lines to get abortions. Chabot was a House manager during the 1998 impeachment of President Clinton. In retrospect, Chabot said in an interview with The Almanac of American Politics, he is most proud of his work in fighting wasteful spending. “I’ve been known as a real fiscal budget hawk.”
Chabot lost his seat in 2008, when Driehaus defeated him by 5 percentage points as the Democrats increased their congressional majority; he had been spoiling for a rematch ever since. In the campaign this year, Chabot criticized the incumbent for voting with the Democratic majority on President Obama’s health care initiative and the $787 billion economic-stimulus package. “I’m for less government, restraining the growth of government and spending. I’m for people having personal control of their own lives,” Chabot said. He emphasized help for small business. “That’s been the economic engine of growth,” he said. “In the past, we’ve always rewarded success. I wonder if Congress has some sort of disdain for success. That’s why the economy hasn’t bounced back like it usually does.”
For his part, Driehaus defended the work that Democrats have done during the past two years, including the health care overhaul, which he called “the right thing” to do. On the stump, he asked voters to give Obama and the Democrats more time to implement change. In one ad, he said: “People are going to work. We’re investing in jobs of the future.”
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