Canton Repository

October 30, 2006

DeWine, Brown square off in high-profile race for Senate

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON - The Ohio Senate race, one of the most competitive in the nation, pits a dogged legislator and advocate for children’s issues against a champion of the working man and critic of free-trade agreements.

Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Cedarville, is seeking a third term with opposition from Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon.

The candidates have sparred over their records, their effectiveness as lawmakers and the proper direction for the country.

TOUTING INDEPENDENCE

Brown, 53, charges DeWine with voting for legislation favored by oil and pharmaceutical companies, such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit, because of the hundreds of thousands of dollars they have contributed to his campaign.

The seven-term congressman also criticizes DeWine for voting with President Bush more than 90 percent of the time.

“The difference is I stood up to a president of my own party,” said Brown, who opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement and favored a balanced budget amendment and line-item veto when Democrat Bill Clinton was president.

DeWine “never really has (opposed Bush) on any major issue,” he said.

DeWine, 59, denied that big campaign contributors have influence over him. He has bragged about his record of supporting Bush, but noted that he has opposed the administration on some issues, including voting against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

He accuses Brown, who has a consistently liberal voting record in the House, of being “on the fringe of his own party.”

DeWine criticizes Brown for opposing the Patriot Act, which he says has broken down the wall between law enforcement and the intelligence community, allowing them to work together to fight terrorism.

DeWine also underscores what he says is his history of bipartisanship, working with Democrats and Republicans to pass legislation to improve the lives of children, provide tools to law enforcement and increase highway safety, Brown, he charges, is a partisan who has enjoyed little success in working with the other party.

In response, Brown noted that he worked with Republicans such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on several measures, including provisions to close loopholes preventing access to cheaper drugs.

TRADE, HEALTH CARE, JOBS AND KIDS

Brown has made his reputation as a foe of free trade agreements, which he argues are harmful to U.S. workers. He led the unsuccessful opposition against the Central American Free Trade Agreement last year.

DeWine voted for CAFTA.

Brown also has pushed for legislation to reduce the cost of medications for seniors and increase access to health care.

DeWine, viewed as a centrist on most issues, has carved out a niche in the area of children’s welfare, including passing legislation to increase testing of children’s medications and requiring judges to give more weight to the safety of abused children in custody cases.

If elected to the Senate, Brown said his priorities would be jobs and health care.

His formula for job creation includes rewriting trade agreements to make them fairer, gearing tax policy to favor domestic manufacturers and promoting ethanol production, research and technology development in Ohio, he said.

Brown opposed the income tax cuts sought by Bush, which he said favor the wealthy.

DeWine supported those cuts, which he said spurred the economy and put more money in the pockets of Ohioans.

DeWine said his priorities include passing a bill he wrote with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to create an insurance program to help pay for assistance required by disabled people who continue to work.

He also wants to pass a bill giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco, which he said would benefit Americans’ health.

Since joining the Senate Appropriations Committee, DeWine said he has used his clout to direct $1.2 billion in spending back to the state for health care, research and job creation.

THE WAR IN IRAQ

Iraq divides the candidates.

Brown, who voted against the 2003 resolution authorizing the invasion, argues the war was mismanaged. He favors a military-approved timetable for withdrawing over the next two years.

DeWine voted to invade Iraq but admitted mistakes have been made.

“We did not have enough troops when we went in,” he said.

DeWine insists that setting a timetable would embolden the insurgents in Iraq and benefit radicals in Iran, who he said would like to turn Iraq into a terrorist haven.

But the war isn’t the only point on which the two diverge.

Brown is a sharp critic of the Medicare drug prescription plan championed by Bush — especially the so-called “doughnut hole,” a gap in coverage that appears after a beneficiary and the government have paid $2,250 in prescription costs in a year.

He said if the plan were changed, allowing the government to negotiate drug prices and eliminating the insurance company “middleman,” the savings would “fill or almost fill … the doughnut hole,” allowing for expanded coverage.

DeWine claimed that Brown “really has been unable to say how he would pay to close” the gap.

Federal officials say closing the gap would add $500 billion to $600 billion to the cost of the program.

DeWine agreed the drug coverage plan is not perfect and said “there are problems to be worked out.” But he added that competition among drug plans has led to lower costs than projected, and lower premiums for consumers.

Perhaps no issue divides the candidates more clearly than abortion. DeWine has sponsored several anti-abortion laws to prohibit what opponents call “partial birth” abortion and to make the killing of a fetus a crime.

Brown believes abortion should be legal and he voted against a ban on such late-term abortions because it did not include an exception for the health of the mother.

They also differ over federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. DeWine opposes it because he believes it’s wrong to destroy human embryos. Brown contends the research could lead to a cure for diseases.

U.S. SENATE

Term of office: Six years

Annual pay: $165,200

SHERROD BROWN

Age: 53

Address: Avon

Party: Democratic

Education: Master’s in education and public administration, Ohio State University

Occupation: U.S. representative

Family: Wife, Connie Schultz; two children, two stepchildren

Religion: Lutheran

Political experience: U.S. representative, 1993-present; Ohio secretary of state, 1982-90; state representative, 1974-82

“The partnership between Mike DeWine and (Republican governor) Bob Taft has given the state very little. You will see a partnership between me and (Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Ted Strickland that produces.”

MIKE DEWINE

Age: 59

Address: Cedarville

Party: Republican

Education: Law degree, Ohio Northern University; B.S., education, Miami University of Ohio

Occupation: U.S. senator

Family: Wife, Fran; eight children

Religion: Catholic

Political experience: U.S. senator, 1995-present; lieutenant governor, 1990-94; U.S. representative, 1982-90; state senator, 1980-82; Greene County prosecutor, 1977-81

“I have a proven record of working with Democrats and Republicans to get things done, to make things happen. My opponent, Sherrod Brown, does not. … He’s exemplified no ability really to work with other people of the opposite party to get anything done.”