The Scan — October 2, 2013

Former EPA official John Beale pleads the Fifth in his appearance before the House Oversight Committee, and Ron Binz drops his bid to head FERC.
National Journal
Olga Belogolova
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Olga Belogolova
Oct. 1, 2013, 3:24 p.m.

Vi­tal Stat­ist­ics

  • 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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