In one of the nation’s most expensive, bitterly contested political campaigns of 2012, Democrat SHERROD BROWN has earned another six years as U.S. senator from Ohio.
During his freshman term, Senator Brown has cast a number of vital votes for this state and the country. They include his support of the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and economic stimulus legislation.
No vote was more crucial to Ohio than Mr. Brown’s advocacy in 2009 of the federal rescue of Chrysler and General Motors in the depths of the Great Recession. When private financing was not available to help the struggling U.S. automakers, the tax-subsidized bailout enabled both companies to emerge from bankruptcy.
Today, the recovery of Chrysler and GM has allowed them to restore and add jobs at such Ohio facilities as Toledo’s Jeep assembly plant. The bailout also preserved the U.S. automotive supply chain. That’s critical in Ohio, which leads the nation in auto-parts production.
Mr. Brown is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in 40 years — a post that has allowed him to advance the state’s extensive farm interests. He has usefully promoted Ohio’s economic recovery by supporting a revival of traditional manufacturing and infrastructure investment, as well as training for workers in emerging industries such as alternative energy.
He has sponsored bipartisan legislation aimed at simplifying the nation’s Byzantine tax code, and making it easier for individual taxpayers and small businesses to file their tax returns. He properly seeks to repeal the George W. Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, as a prelude to comprehensive deficit reduction. His approach to federal regulation is reasonable and balanced.
Senator Brown also has been a powerful voice for campaign finance reform. He supports a federal constitutional amendment that would reverse the Supreme Court’s dreadful ruling in the Citizens United case, which opened the floodgates to largely unlimited and unregulated political spending by opaque corporate interests.
We don’t agree with Mr. Brown all the time. His valid support of strong enforcement of global trade rules can slide into shrill China-bashing and protectionist appeals. But he is hardly alone among politicians of either party in that respect, especially in an election year.
A former state lawmaker, Ohio secretary of state, and U.S. House member, Senator Brown has amassed an admirable record of constituent service. In his next term, he recently told The Blade’s editorial board, he wants to focus on job creation, especially in manufacturing.
Mr. Brown’s Republican challenger, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, does not offer a plausible case for unseating the incumbent. If Mr. Mandel’s record of political achievement and campaign preparation matched his personal ambition, he would be an impressive contender. But it doesn’t, and he isn’t.
The Blade endorsed Mr. Mandel in his campaign for treasurer two years ago, in part on the strength of his pledge to serve out his four-year term in that office. Instead, he launched his Senate campaign within weeks of starting that job.
Mr. Mandel has largely ignored basic duties of the treasurer, such as chairing monthly meetings of a board that determines where public money is deposited. Some of the staff he hired appear to have been chosen on the basis of their political rather than professional credentials.
The challenger portrays himself as a political outsider, but he has aligned himself with extreme factions of his party. His stances on major issues rarely go beyond simple partisan slogans — Obamacare, bad; regulation, bad; tax cuts, good. He remains elusive in articulating a position on the auto bailout.
Mr. Mandel has waged an unusually nasty campaign. Independent fact-checkers have cited him repeatedly for making false statements in his advertising and while campaigning. He has benefited from almost $20 million in outside money spent on anti-Brown ads, much of it from unknown contributors.
Mr. Mandel deserves Ohioans’ respect for his military service in Iraq. At age 35, he has a long political future ahead of him. At this point, his best course would be to concentrate on his day job and do it well, thus showing — not merely telling — voters he is ready for higher office.
Both parties are furiously contesting Mr. Brown’s seat, since it will help determine control of the Senate. Based on his effective and progressive first-term performance and lack of credible opposition, The Blade urges the re-election of Sen. SHERROD BROWN.