James Stotter

Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Sherrod Campbell Brown vs. Republican Joshua A. Mandel is one of the nation's mostly hotly contested races. Either outcome will assure Clevelanders a voice in the U.S. Senate. A lifelong politician, Brown has held state and federal elected positions for 36 years.

Brown will turn 60 right after the election, and he has spent most of his life in Ohio. He was born and raised in Mansfield, an Ohio industrial city that was a thriving manufacturing center in his youth. Mansfield is the far southwestern corner of Greater Cleveland’s once great industrial sphere of influence. Brown was an Eagle Scout and educated in the public school system. He did well enough to earn a B.A. in Russian Studies at Yale. He then earned an M.P.A. and an M.A. in education, from The Ohio State University (OSU). Brown is divorced, has four children, and is remarried to Connie Schultz, a reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer until she resigned to help his re-election bid.

Brown lists “teacher” as his occupation. However, I could only find evidence of his teaching at OSU’s Mansfield campus while he was a graduate student at OSU in Columbus. Perhaps the occupational listing reflects one of his degrees. As noted just below, while doing his graduate studies and teaching, he was also a member of the Ohio House of Representatives. From late 1990 to early 1993, he may have continued adjunct teaching, though I could not locate any records. That was the only time since 1974 that he did not hold elective office.

Brown is what most people would probably label a career politician, and, as discussed below, a very successful one. To wit: Right after he graduated from Yale, he ran for the Ohio House of Representatives and won, becoming, at least up to that time, the youngest person ever elected to Ohio’s General Assembly.

He was re-elected three more times before winning the race for Secretary of State in 1982. The primary for that race included a four-way Democratic primary where the redoubtable Dennis Kucinich was one of his opponents. He was re-elected in 1986, but in 1990 lost his bid for a third term to Bob Taft, who was on his way to becoming governor. That is the only time he appears to have been out of public office since 1974. And the only time he has lost.

So, in 1990, Brown then did what many politicos do and sought a new constituency. This lucky area was the City of Lorain in Lorain County. Lorain County is immediately west of Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is. It was, and to a lesser extent still is, a major steel and auto manufacturing center and a Great Lakes shipping port. Brown became a seven-term Congressman from Lorain until 2006, when he defeated incumbent Republican (and now state Attorney General) Mike DeWine for the U.S. Senate. Later, he moved to the City of Avon, in Lorain County, which borders Cuyahoga County.

So far, Brown has won 14 out of the 15 general elections where he’s competed. Over the decades, Brown has become an increasingly liberal Democrat. In fact, Brown ties with seven other members of Congress-—not just the Senate—-as the most liberal. He runs in areas where Democrats traditionally win. Both Lorain and Mansfield are industrial cities with unions such as the United Auto Workers and United Steel Workers.

His first statewide race was in 1982 when a severe recession eroded Republican popularity. Capitalizing on that again, he then got re-elected once, then lost to Taft. In 1992, he rebounded and got elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and in 2006 to the U.S. Senate.

No evidence was found of having served in the military.

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Much of the biographical material is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherrod_Brown