Sherrod Campbell Brown (born November 9, 1952) is an American politician and author who is the senior United States Senator from Ohio, in office since January 3, 2007. Brown is a member of the Democratic Party. Before his election to the Senate, he was a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Ohio's 13th congressional district from 1993 to 2007. He previously served as the Ohio Secretary of State (1983–1991) and as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives (1974–1982).
Brown defeated two-term Republican incumbent Mike DeWine in the 2006 Senate election and was re-elected in 2012, defeating state Treasurer Josh Mandel. In the Senate, he was chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Hunger, Nutrition and Family Farms and the Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, and is also a member of the Committee on Finance, Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and Select Committee on Ethics. Beginning in January 2015 at the start of the 114th Congress, Brown became the Ranking Democratic Member on the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Early life, education, and academic career
Brown was born in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of Emily (née Campbell) and Charles Gailey Brown, M.D. He was named after his maternal grandfather. He became an Eagle Scout in 1967. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian studies from Yale University in 1974. At Yale, he lived in Davenport College. While in college, Brown volunteered for liberal politicians such as George McGovern. He went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in education and a Master of Public Administration degree from Ohio State University in Columbus in 1979 and 1981, respectively. He taught at the Mansfield branch campus of Ohio State University from 1979 to 1981. He backpacked in India during the Emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Early political career
During his senior year in college, Brown was recruited by a local Democratic leader to run for Ohio's state house. Brown served as a state representative in Ohio from 1974 to 1982. At the time of his election to the Ohio House, he was the youngest person elected to that body. In 1982, Brown ran for Ohio Secretary of State to succeed Anthony J. Celebrezze, Jr. Brown won a four-way Democratic primary that included Dennis Kucinich, then defeated Republican Virgil Brown in the general election. In 1986, Brown won re-election, defeating Vincent C. Campanella. As Secretary of State, Brown focused on voter registration outreach. In 1990, Brown lost re-election in a heated campaign against Republican Bob Taft.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1992, Brown moved from Mansfield to Lorain, Ohio, and won a heavily contested Democratic primary for the open seat for Ohio's 13th district, located in the western and southern suburbs of Cleveland, after eight-term incumbent Don Pease announced his retirement. The Democratic-leaning district gave him an easy win over the little-known Republican Margaret R. Mueller. He was re-elected six times.
The Democrats lost their long-held House majority in the 1994 elections, and Democrats remained in the minority for the remainder of Brown's tenure. As ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee, Brown successfully advocated for increased funding to fight tuberculosis.
In 2001, the Republican-controlled legislature considered redrawing Brown's district. Some top Democrats urged Brown to relocate and take on fellow Democrat James Traficant after he defected when he voted to elect Republican Dennis Hastert as speaker of the U.S. House.
In 2005, Brown led the Democratic effort to block the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). For many months, Brown worked as whip on the issue, securing Democratic "nay" votes and seeking Republican allies. After several delays, the House of Representatives finally voted on CAFTA after midnight on July 28, 2005, which ended in passage by one vote.
He opposed an amendment to Ohio's constitution that banned same-sex marriage. Brown was also one of the few U.S. Representatives to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.
Brown was the ranking minority member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee. He also served on the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. While serving on the House International Relations Committee, he was also a member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
Brown opposed the Iraq War and voted against the Iraq Resolution as a House Representative. He voted against the $87 billion war budgetary supplement. He also voted for redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008.
In 2008, Brown joined 91 other senators in voting for the Iraq and Afghanistan War Funding, Unemployment Benefits Extension, and GI Bill, which required the Department of Defense to provide a timetable for achieving security in Iraq, provided education funding for veterans, extended unemployment compensation, and appropriated funds to combat drug trafficking, reduce Medicaid fraud, assist victims of natural disasters, and fund the Department of Defense.
In 2012, he co-sponsored a resolution to "oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat" while also joined bipartisan effort to urge Obama Administration to step up pressure, including strengthening sanctions, cooperating with U.S. allies and military readiness, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. In 2015, Brown co-sponsored an amendment to the budget which unanimously approved by the Senate that would reimpose sanctions on Iran if it violated the interim or final agreement that has paused its nuclear activities.
From U.S. House of Representatives to Senate, Sherrod Brown strongly supported the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances as cornerstones of United States-Taiwan relations.
Weeks after the 2014 Hong Kong class boycott campaign and Umbrella Movement broke out which demanded genuine universal suffrage among other goals, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China chair Senator Brown and co-chair U.S. Rep. Chris Smith along with bipartisan Senators Ben Cardin, Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, Dianne Feinstein, Jeff Merkley and Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Congressmen Dan Lipinski and Frank Wolf introduced Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act which would update the United States–Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and U.S. commitment to Hong Kong's freedom and democracy. "Hong Kong's autonomy and freedoms are under threat from China. We must strongly support the universal rights of the people of Hong Kong, including free and fair elections in 2017 and beyond,” Brown said.
He voted in favor of the 2012 NDAA that sparked controversy over indefinite detention of US citizens.
In January 2016, Senator Brown introduced a bill in Congress which would restrict ISIS’ financing by authorizing tough new sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate financial transactions with ISIS and other terrorist threats. His bill also called for tightening international passport regulations and additional screening of those attempting to enter the U.S. on certain types of Visas.
Another part of his bill would secure grant funding to state and local law enforcement agencies to develop specialized anti-terrorism investigation and combat programs and to train first responders in the event of an active shooter or a terrorist attack. To monitor possible terrorist activity on the internet, he proposed better cyber-training to identify and track extremists, such as the couple behind the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. “We need to ensure that those on the frontlines protecting us have all the tools they need to respond to threats, and to root out these terrorists at home and abroad,” Brown said.
He also renewed his call for closing the terrorist gun loophole to stop individuals who are known or suspected terrorists - including those on the “No Fly” list and homegrown extremists - from purchasing deadly firearms. "If you're too dangerous to fly, you're too dangerous to purchase an assault weapon. Period," said Brown.
Servicemembers and veterans
In 2015, Senators Brown and Bob Menendez co-authored the Military Families Credit Reporting Act to safeguard financial security for service members while deployed on active duty and requested specific information and feedback to help ensure deployed military personnel have the tools they need to protect their credit.
In 2014, Brown introduced the Gold Star Fathers Act of 2014 (S. 2323; 113th Congress), a bill that would expand preferred eligibility for federal jobs to the fathers of certain permanently disabled or deceased veterans. Brown said that "when a service member is killed in action or permanently and totally disabled, the government should do its part to be there for grieving parents - no matter if they're fathers or mothers."
In 2015, Senators Brown and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan introduced legislation to ensure veterans, students serving in the armed forces, and their qualifying dependents can attain priority enrollment at four-year colleges or universities so that they can finish their degrees before their federal GI benefits expire. Brown said we must invest in and train our men and women when they return to their communities.
Energy and environment
Senator Brown co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to restrict the export of electronic waste, help boost the domestic recycling industry, foster innovation, reduce the number of counterfeit electronics from countries like China, and support efforts to recover rare earth materials found in electronics. He supports research and development on clean and renewable energy, including new fuel cell and offshore wind energy production, and its manufacturing supply chain in U.S. to ensure safe and reliable fuel source.
Bank and finance industry
In February 2013, conservative commentator George F. Will wrote in support of Brown's proposal to break up consolidated banks and finance industry conglomerates, ending "too big to fail" by restoring the Glass-Steagall Act.
In 2016, amid Panama Papers scandal around the globe, Senators Brown and Elizabeth Warren urged the Treasury Department to investigate whether U.S. individuals were involved in possible tax avoidance and misconduct associated with the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.
In 2009 when the vote on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act came down to just a few votes, Brown (an ardent advocate of the legislation) was attending services for his deceased mother. The White House provided a plane in order to fly him back to vote for the bill when it was determined that no commercial flight would make it on time. "Although most senators voted shortly after 5:30 p.m., the 60th and final vote was not cast until 10:46 p.m. by Sen. Sherrod Brown."
Brown was instrumental in passing the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010.
Due to serious environmental issues and pollution in China as well as series food safety incidents, including pet foods and milk among others, Senator Brown in 2013 criticized the Department of Agriculture over inadequate process of "No routine inspections" and "No country-of-origin labeling" for meats from that country. "Given the well-documented shortcoming of the Chinese food safety system, we shouldn't allow unmarked meat into our markets that is processed in Chinese facilities that are not subject to food safety inspection,” Brown said. "This action could endanger the health and safety of American consumers and potentially undermines confidence in our nation's food safety standards." as people are unable to identify whether things are from Chinese processors or not. Brown highlighted the egregious record of China and demanded additional actions from USDA and Food Safety and Inspection Service for those problems as American consumers deserve to be fully informed of their product choices.
While as the Ranking Democrat on U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Rep. Brown authored the Children's Hospitals Education and Research Act of 1998 which first proposed the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program. In 2015, Senator Brown led 31 colleagues to seek continued and $30 million increase funding ($295 million) in fiscal year 2016 which can benefit seven institutions in Ohio among others.
As the water crisis in Flint, Michigan also raised similar public health concern in Granville and Sebring, Ohio, Senator Brown in 2016 introduced legislation that would force the federal government to step in when cities and states fail to warn residents about lead-contaminated drinking water and to give Ohio's school districts money to test it.
In 2007 Brown and Sam Brownback (R-KS) sponsored an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007. President George W. Bush signed the bill in September 2007. The amendment established a prize as an incentive for companies to invest in new drugs and vaccines for neglected tropical diseases. It awards a transferable “Priority Review Voucher” to any company that obtains approval for a treatment for a neglected tropical disease. This provision adds to the market based incentives available for the development of new medicines for developing world diseases in the developing world, among them malaria, tuberculosis and African sleeping sickness. The prize had been proposed by Duke University faculty members Henry Grabowski, Jeffrey Moe, and David Ridley in their 2006 Health Affairs paper "Developing Drugs for Developing Countries."
Brown supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, voting for it in December 2009, and he voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
Brown is an advocate of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. He also voted against prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting children in Washington D.C., and received a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign. On November 30, 2010 Brown made a contribution to the It Gets Better Project from the Senate floor, and on December 18, 2010 he voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.
In 2011, in the National Journal’s annual rankings, Brown tied with eight other members for the title of the most liberal member of Congress.
In 2015, Senator Brown pushed for national charter school reform with more accountability and transparency to ensure tax dollars are spent on education rather than profit.
Brown was a cosponsor of the Protect-IP Act (PIPA).
Brown has criticized free trade with China and other countries. In a 2006 Washington Post article, Brown argued against free trade on the grounds that labor activism was responsible for the growth of the U.S. middle class, and that the U.S. economy is harmed by trade relations with countries that lack the kind of labor regulations that have resulted from that activism.
In 2011, the Columbus Dispatch noted that Brown "loves to rail against international trade agreements." Brown's book, Myths of Free Trade, argues that "an unregulated global economy is a threat to all of us." He recommends adopting measures that would allow for emergency tariffs, protect Buy America laws, including those that give preference to minority and women-owned businesses, and hold foreign producers to American labor and environmental standards. Brown was the co-author and sponsor of a bill that would officially declare China a currency manipulator and require the Department of Commerce to impose countervailing duties on Chinese imports. China's policy undervaluing its currency against the dollar and export subsidy has damaged American manufacturers and taken away American jobs.
According to reports unveiled in 2012, China's cheating in the auto parts trade resulted in more than 1.6 million American jobs at risk. Senator Brown addressed China's predatory trading practices on American industry and called for action against China doesn't play fair. He tried to impose tariffs on China.
In May 2016, Senator Brown praised Hillary Clinton's in-depth plan to enforce regulations and laws on trade, such as rules of origin, triple the enforcement budgets at the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission, and how to bring manufacturing to America.
In 2012, Senator Brown urged the Department of Defense to comply with a rule that requires military service members to wear clothes and boots made in the U.S. rather than in China. "If it's taxpayer dollars, it should help American workers and American businesses, pure and simple. Our men and women in uniform are fighting for their country, and deserve to fight in quality uniforms and boots that are made in the U.S.A." Brown said.
In 2016, Senator Brown criticized Donald Trump for his outsourcing American jobs to China.
In August 2005, Brown announced he would not run for the United States Senate seat held by Republican Mike DeWine. In October, however, Brown reconsidered his decision. His announcement came shortly after Democrat Paul Hackett stated that he would soon announce his candidacy.
On February 13, 2006, Hackett withdrew from the race, all but ensuring that Brown would win the Democratic nomination. In the May 2 primary, Brown won 78.05% of the Democratic vote. His opponent, Merrill Samuel Keiser, Jr., received 21.95% of the vote.
In the middle of his Senate campaign in April 2006, Brown, along with John Conyers, brought an action against George W. Bush and others, alleging violations of the Constitution in the passage of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The case, Conyers v. Bush, was ultimately dismissed for lack of standing.
On November 7, 2006, Brown faced two-term incumbent senator Mike DeWine in the general election. Brown won the seat with 56% of the vote to DeWine's 44%.
Brown stood for reelection in 2012, defeating opponent Josh Mandel, who in 2010 defeated the incumbent state treasurer by 14 points. Mandel raised $2.3 million in the second quarter of 2011 alone, to Brown’s $1.5 million. Early on, Brown enjoyed a steady lead in the polls. Mandel won the March Republican primary with 63% of the vote.
The Washington Post reported that no candidate running for reelection, save Barack Obama, faced more opposition in 2012 by outside groups. As of April 2012, over $5.1 million had been spent on television ads opposing Brown, according to data provided by a Senate Democratic campaign operative. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $2.7 million. 60 Plus Association, a conservative group that opposes health care reform, spent another $1.4 million. Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee also spent heavily in the race. In May 2012, Brown hit the campaign trail with West Wing actor Martin Sheen.
In March 2011, Brown came under scrutiny for a senate floor speech in which he cited the names of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin while he criticized Republican efforts in Ohio and Wisconsin to mitigate the power of public employee unions to negotiate with taxpayers. In his speech he said "some of the worst governments that we've ever had, do you know one of the first things they did? They went after unions. Hitler didn't want unions, Stalin didn't want unions, Mubarak didn't want independent unions". Brown, however, added that he was not comparing the two situations. He later apologized for his speech.
Committee assignments (115th Congress)
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
- Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management and Trade
- Subcommittee on Nutrition, Agricultural Research and Specialty Crops
- Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (Ranking Member)
- Subcommittee on Economic Policy (Ex-Officio)
- Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection (Ex-Officio)
- Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development (Ex-Officio)
- Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance (Ex-Officio)
- Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment (Ex-Officio)
- Committee on Finance
- Subcommittee on Health Care
- Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy (Ranking Member)
- Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Brown's second wife, Connie Schultz, is a former newspaper columnist at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, but resigned because being a politician's spouse presented a conflict of interest. She won a Pulitzer Prize for "her pungent columns that provided a voice for the underdog and underprivileged." She is also the author of Life Happens (2007) and ...and His Lovely Wife (2008), in which she describes her experiences as a spouse of a U.S. Senate candidate. Brown was previously married to Larke Recchie from 1979 to 1987. Brown is the father of four children: two from his marriage to Recchie and two children from his marriage to Schultz. He has five grandchildren.
On May 18, 2014, Brown was awarded an honorary doctor of public service degree from Otterbein University. Along with his wife, Brown delivered a keynote address at the undergraduate commencement.
Brown is the author of two books:
- Congress from the Inside: Observations from the Majority and the Minority ISBN 0-87338-630-2
- Myths of Free Trade: Why American Trade Policy Has Failed ISBN 1-56584-928-0
|Libertarian||Margaret Ann Leech||143,943||4|
|Democratic||Sherrod Brown (inc.)||1,805,833||60|
|Democratic||Sherrod Brown (inc.)||1,604,058||47|
|Republican||Margaret R. Mueller||88,889||35|
|Independent||Werner J. Lange||3,844||2|
|Republican||Gregory A. White||86,422||46|
|Independent||John M. Ryan||2,430||1|
|Republican||Kenneth C. Blair, Jr.||87,108||36|
|Natural Law||David Kluter||8,707||4|
|Republican||Grace L. Drake||72,666||38|
|Republican||Rick H. Jeric||84,295||32|
|Natural Law||David Kluter||3,108||1|
|Democratic||Merrill Samuel Keiser, Jr.||163,628||22|
|Independent||Richard Duncan (write-in)||830||0|