Canton Repository

November 8, 2006

Brown first Ohio Dem senator since Glenn

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service


CLEVELAND Democratic U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown unseated Sen. Mike DeWine on Tuesday in a victory he declared a triumph for the middle class.

"Today in Ohio in the middle of America, the middle class won," he said, with his wife, Connie, his children and other family members at his side.

"All of us together today have changed our country," said Brown, a seven-term congressman who made his mark as a foe of trade agreements and advocate of affordable health care.

As Brown began his victory speech at 11 p.m., red, white and blue confetti was blasted over several hundred supporters in the Cleveland Public Auditorium, which ironically hosted two Republican presidential conventions in the early 1900s.

Brown's victory after one of the most closely watched Senate battles in the nation gives Ohio its first Democratic senator since John Glenn retired in 1999.

DeWine, who was seeking a third term, conceded the race with a phone call to Brown about 10:40 p.m.

Like other Republicans in the state, DeWine, of Cedarville, was hurt by widespread voter dissatisfaction with the economy, political scandals in Columbus and Washington, and the Iraq war.

In his concession speech, DeWine told supporters in Columbus, "We fought hard" but "this was not the year."

"I will continue to fight for my passion - children," DeWine said.

Brown, 53, received some of his most thunderous applause when he declared, "We all want an end to the war in Iraq."

Looking ahead to next year, the Avon resident vowed to fight for a federal minimum wage increase and federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. Another priority is to "tell the government to negotiate drug prices on behalf of 40 million Medicare beneficiaries," he said.

A self-styled "progressive," he also pledged to work for affordable health care and affordable higher education.

He said he would fix the No Child Left Behind law and work with Gov.-elect Ted Strickland to "make Ohio the Silicon Valley of alternative energy."

And in a glance forward to the next presidential race in this key swing state, he said, "As Ohio goes in '06, so goes the nation in '08."

He told the crowd that when he began his campaign for Senate 13 months ago, a lot of people thought he couldn't win.

"They warned us to be cautious, they advised me not to be myself, they advised us to be middle of the road," he said.

But Brown said he didn't take their advice. "It's a risk worth taking to stand up for what you believe. It's a risk worth taking to fight uncompromisingly for progressive values."

The hard-fought contest pitted Brown's message of ending the "stranglehold" of special interests and empowering the middle class against DeWine's claim that he was a more effective and bipartisan lawmaker.

Throughout the campaign, Brown hammered DeWine for being a tool of special interests, including oil and pharmaceutical companies that gave to his campaign.

DeWine, 59, rejected the charge. He accused Brown of being an ineffective, partisan lawmaker who was too liberal for Ohio.

Brown's supporters at the party included Justin Williams of Massillon, who praised him for standing up against Bush.

"He's going to speak his mind and he's going to say, 'Ohio is not a state to be messed with,' " said Williams, a freshman at Case Western Reserve University who worked on the campaign.

Don Singer of Canton, another campaign volunteer who gave speeches on behalf of Brown, said the new senator would serve as a check on Bush and Republicans in Congress.

"We're now going to have people on both sides in Congress who are going to have more courage to speak up," said Singer, a retired manager of federal programs to benefit dislocated workers.