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Published: Saturday, 10/30/2004

U.S. Senate: State legislator mounts challenge to Voinovich

Voinovich Voinovich

Ohioans voting for their next senator will have to choose between two men who have each served a single term within Washington's beltway.

Incumbent George Voinovich is opposed in Tuesday's election by state Sen. Eric Fingerhut (D., Shaker Heights), who once served in the Congress in the early 1990s.

Mr. Voinovich, a veteran Ohio politician, has served a single term in the Senate. Prior to that, he served two terms as governor of Ohio and more than a decade as mayor of Cleveland.

Mr. Voinovich began his political career in 1967 as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives.

Fingerhut Fingerhut

During his first term in the Senate, Mr. Voinovich pushed several reforms targeted at early education. While visiting with Jeep workers last month, Mr. Voinovich said he would continue to pursue policies that encourage fair trade.

He strayed from his party by voting against a free-trade agreement with Australia and spoke against his own party by vowing to only support a tax plan that coupled cuts with less spending.

In his second term, Mr. Voinovich said he hopes to work toward improving the nation's health-care system, in particular curbing the rise in health-care costs.

Mr. Fingerhut has represented Ohio's 25th Senate District in the Cleveland area since 1999 and serves as the senior Democrat on the Finance and Financial Institutions Committee. He was re-elected in 2002 with 84 percent of the vote.

From 1992 to 1994, Mr. Fingerhut held a seat in the U.S. House, though he lost it after one term to a Republican challenger.

During his time in Washington, Mr. Fingerhut's key votes included his support of gun regulations and President Bill Clinton's first budget and tax plan. He believes the vote in favor of the economic package propelled the nation into an economic boom and period of budget surpluses, even though it was not politically popular.

Prior to his state Senate term, Mr. Fingerhut served as senior fellow with the Federation for Community Planning, a nonprofit organization that helps reform health and human-services programs in Greater Cleveland. Before his term in Congress, he worked as an attorney in the Older Person's Law Office of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

- Tad Vezner

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