|United States Senator|
January 3, 2007
Serving with Rob Portman
|Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee|
January 3, 2015
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Ohio's 13th district
January 3, 1993 - January 3, 2007
|Donald J. Pease|
|47th Ohio Secretary of State|
January 12, 1983 - January 14, 1991
|Anthony J. Celebrezze Jr.|
|Member of the Ohio House of Representatives|
from the 61st district
January 3, 1975 - December 31, 1982
Sherrod Campbell Brown
November 9, 1952
Mansfield, Ohio, U.S.
(m. 1979; div. 1987)
|Residence||Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.|
|Education||Yale University (BA)|
Ohio State University (MA, MPA)
Sherrod Campbell Brown (, born November 9, 1952) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Ohio, a seat to which he was first elected in 2006. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the U.S. Representative for Ohio's 13th congressional district from 1993 to 2007 and the 47th Secretary of State of Ohio from 1983 to 1991. He started his political career in 1975 as an Ohio State Representative.
Brown defeated two-term Republican incumbent Mike DeWine in the 2006 U.S. Senate election and was reelected in 2012, defeating state Treasurer Josh Mandel, and in 2018, defeating U.S. Representative Jim Renacci. In the Senate, he was chair 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, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and Select Committee on Ethics. At the start of the 114th Congress in January 2015, Brown became the Ranking Democratic Member on the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. He was later appointed co-chair of the newly formed Joint Multiemployer Pension Solvency Committee in March 2018. As of 2020 he is the only Democratic statewide elected official in Ohio.
After winning his third term in 2018, Brown was considered a potential candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 and began exploring a run in January 2019. On March 7, 2019, he announced that he would not run for president.
Brown was born in Mansfield, Ohio, the son of Emily (née Campbell) and Charles Gailey Brown, M.D. He has Scottish, Irish, German, and English ancestry, and 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 campaigned for George McGovern during the 1972 presidential election. He went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in education and a Master of Public Administration degree from The Ohio State University at Columbus in 1979 and 1981, respectively. He taught at the Mansfield branch campus of The Ohio State University from 1979 to 1981.
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. He won a four-way Democratic primary that included Dennis Kucinich, then defeated Republican Virgil Brown in the general election. In 1986 Brown was reelected, defeating Vincent C. Campanella. As Secretary of State, Brown focused on voter registration outreach. In 1990 he lost reelection in a heated campaign against Republican Bob Taft, the only race he has lost in his political career.
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, 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 reelected six times.
The Democrats lost their long-held House majority in the 1994 elections, and stayed 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 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, passing it by one vote.
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.
In August 2005 Brown announced he would not run for the United States Senate seat held by two-term Republican incumbent Mike DeWine. But in October he 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%.
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 defeated DeWine, 56% to 44%.
Brown ran for reelection in 2012, facing opponent Josh Mandel, who in 2010 had 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 from outside groups in 2012 than Brown did. As of April 2012 over $5.1 million had been spent on television ads opposing him, according to data provided by a Senate Democratic campaign operative. The United States 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 campaigned with West Wing actor Martin Sheen.
On November 6, 2012, Brown held his seat, winning 50.7% of the vote to Mandel's 44.7%. Independent candidate Scott Rupert received 4.6% of the vote.
On March 11, 2020, Brown proposed a bill that would let workers immediately receive paid sick days, allowing workers to stay home and self-quarantine if feeling sick or in the event of any public health emergency. He noted it could slow infection spread to coworkers and criticized Republicans for blocking the proposal, although he said he believed the House would pass similar legislation.
After President Donald Trump was impeached, Brown voted to remove him from office. During the impeachment trial in January 2020, Brown said he was fine with Republicans bringing witnesses to testify so long as they allowed testimony from witnesses such as John Bolton. At that time, he also called on Senate to approve legislation that would improve the EPA's regulation of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
In February 2020, Brown and other Democrats in the house voted to block anti-abortion legislation, the controversial Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. He also brought the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, a House bill, to the Senate.
One of Bernie Sanders's closest allies in the U.S. Senate, Brown nevertheless endorsed Hillary Clinton and campaigned for her in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary in Ohio. He was vetted as a potential vice-presidential running mate for Clinton. The choice came down to Brown and Tim Kaine, who was ultimately selected. Brown had the distinct disadvantage that had Clinton won, Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich would have chosen Brown's replacement in the Senate, whereas Kaine's replacement would be chosen by Democrat and Clinton ally Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.
In May 2017 Washington Monthly suggested that Brown could unite the establishment and progressive wings of the Democratic Party as a presidential candidate in 2020. On November 12, 2018, Cleveland.com reported that Brown was "seriously" considering a presidential run, but on March 9, 2019, Brown said he would not run for president and would remain a senator. He also said he has no interest in being Vice President.
In the 2011 National Journal annual rankings, Brown tied with eight other members for the title of the most liberal member of Congress. According to FiveThirtyEight, as of December 2019, Brown voted with President Donald Trump's position on Congressional issues about 25% of the time.
In a 2017 issue of Dissent, Michael Kazin introduced an interview with Brown by praising him as "a politician ahead of his time" and "perhaps the most class-conscious Democrat in Washington." Brown told Kazin that many Ohioans think "that people on the coasts look down on them" and blamed this notion on Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.
In April 2019, Brown was one of seven senators led by Debbie Stabenow and Joni Ernst to sign a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging the Agriculture Department to implement conservation measures in the 2018 Farm Bill "through a department-wide National Water Quality Initiative, which would build off the existing initiative housed at the Natural Resource Conservation Service."
In March 2019, Brown was one of six senators to sign a letter to the Federal Trade Commission requesting that it "use its rulemaking authority, along with other tools, in order to combat the scourge of non-compete clauses rigging our economy against workers" and saying that non-compete clauses "harm employees by limiting their ability to find alternate work, which leaves them with little leverage to bargain for better wages or working conditions with their immediate employer." The senators' letter added that the FTC had the responsibility of protecting both consumers and workers and needed to "act decisively" to address their concerns over "serious anti-competitive harms from the proliferation of non-competes in the economy."
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 December 2010, Brown voted for the ratification of New Start, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation obliging both countries to have no more than 1,550 strategic warheads and 700 launchers deployed during the next seven years, and providing for a continuation of on-site inspections that halted when START I expired the previous year. It was the first arms treaty with Russia in eight years.
In 2012, Brown co-sponsored a resolution to "oppose any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat." In 2015, he co-sponsored an amendment to the budget that was unanimously approved by the Senate and that would reimpose sanctions on Iran if Iran violated the terms of the interim or final agreement by advancing its nuclear program.
Weeks after the 2014 Hong Kong class boycott campaign and Umbrella Movement broke out which demanded genuine universal suffrage among other goals, Brown (the chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China), along with co-chair U.S. Rep. Chris Smith and U.S. Senators Ben Cardin, Marco Rubio, Roger Wicker, Dianne Feinstein, and Jeff Merkley, and U.S. Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Dan Lipinski and Frank Wolf, introduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would update the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and U.S. commitment to democratic development in Hong Kong.
In September 2016, in advance of UN Security Council resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, Brown signed an AIPAC-sponsored letter urging President Obama to veto "one-sided" resolutions against Israel.
In 2017, Brown criticized U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's military campaign in Yemen, saying, "It's becoming increasingly clear that Saudi Arabia has been deliberately targeting civilian targets. And that's absolutely unacceptable..."
In July of that year, Brown voted for the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which placed sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea. In mid-May 2018 Brown, Bob Menendez and Mark Warner wrote to the inspectors general of the State Department, Treasury Department and Intelligence Community, to allege that the Trump administration had failed to fully comply with the provisions of the CAATSA and request investigations into that.
In May 2018, Brown was one of 12 senators to sign a letter to President Trump urging him not to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal on the grounds that "Iran could either remain in the agreement and seek to isolate the United States from our closest partners, or resume its nuclear activities" if the US pulled out and that both possibilities "would be detrimental to our national security interests."
In August of that year, Brown and 16 other members of Congress urged the United States to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act against Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority in western China's Xinjiang region.
In November of that year, Brown joined Senators Chris Coons, Elizabeth Warren and a bipartisan group of lawmakers in sending the Trump administration a letter raising concerns about the People's Republic of China's undue influence on media outlets and academic institutions in the United States. They wrote: "In American news outlets, Beijing has used financial ties to suppress negative information about the CCP. In the past four years, multiple media outlets with direct or indirect financial ties to China allegedly decided not to publish stories on wealth and corruption in the CCP. In one case, an editor resigned due to mounting self-censorship in the outlet's China coverage. Beijing has also sought to use relationships with American academic institutions and student groups to shape public discourse."
In January 2019, after Juan Guaidó declared himself interim President of Venezuela, Brown said that the United States should "work with our allies and use economic, political and diplomatic leverage to help bring about free and fair elections, limit escalating tension, and ensure the safety of Americans on the ground", and criticized the Trump Administration's suggestions of military intervention as "reckless and irresponsible".
Brown voted against a controversial Anti-Boycott Act initiated by Republicans, which would make it illegal for U.S. companies to engage in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
In December 2015, Brown co-sponsored a bill in Congress that would restrict ISIS's financing by authorizing new sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate financial transactions with ISIS. The bill called for tightening international passport regulations and additional screening of persons attempting to enter the U.S. on certain types of visas. The bill would also provide grants to local law enforcement agencies to train for active shooter situations and terrorist attacks and to conduct cyber-training to identify and track extremists such as the couple behind the 2015 San Bernardino attack. Brown also called for banning those on the no fly list from purchasing assault weapons.
Brown's opposition to the 2017 tax bill led to what was described as a "shouting match" with Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who accused Brown of "spouting off" to the effect that the tax bill benefited the rich.
In March 2018, Vice President Mike Pence criticized Brown for his recent vote against the Republican tax bill (the TCJA). Brown had argued the bill overwhelmingly benefited wealthy individuals and corporations with a much smaller impact to the middle class.
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. He 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, Brown and Representative Tim Ryan introduced legislation that would give military veterans priority in scheduling classes in colleges, universities, and other post-secondary education programs.
In 2012, Brown co-sponsored the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act, a bill that would prohibit the export of some electronics for environmental reasons. In 2018, his Water Resources Development Act was signed by Donald Trump to invest in "clean water infrastructure and build or update water and sewer systems."
Brown called the Republican legislature in Ohio "lunatics" for introducing a concealed carry bill that would allow individuals to carry guns into airplane terminals (before security), police buildings, private airplanes, and day care facilities.
In the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting, Brown participated in the Chris Murphy gun control filibuster. A few weeks later, Brown voted for the Feinstein Amendment, which would have barred any individual on the terrorist watchlist from buying a gun.
In February 2013, conservative commentator George F. Will wrote in support of Brown's proposal to break up consolidated banks and finance industry conglomerates by restoring the Glass-Steagall Act.
In 2016, after the leak of the Panama Papers, 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 the wake of the Flint water crisis, Brown 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.
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.
In 2006, Brown co-sponsored the single-payer Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. He did not co-sponsor Senator Bernie Sanders's single-payer health plan, despite saying he has "always been supportive" of such a system. Brown said he was supporting his own plan, which would allow people 55 and older to buy into Medicare.
In January 2019, Brown was one of six Democratic senators to introduce the American Miners Act of 2019, a bill that would amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to swap funds in excess of the amount needed to meet existing obligations under the Abandoned Mine Land fund to the 1974 Pension Plan as part of an effort to prevent its insolvency as a result of coal company bankruptcies and the 2008 financial crisis. It also increased the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund tax and ensured that miners affected by the 2018 coal company bankruptcies would not lose their health insurance.
In August 2019 Brown was one of 19 senators to sign a letter to United States Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar requesting data from the Trump administration in order to help states and Congress understand the potential consequences of the Texas v. United States Affordable Care Act lawsuit, writing that an overhaul of the present health care system would form "an enormous hole in the pocketbooks of the people we serve as well as wreck state budgets".
In September 2019, amid discussions to prevent a government shutdown, Brown was one of six Democratic senators to sign a letter to congressional leadership advocating the passage of legislation that would permanently fund health care and pension benefits for retired coal miners as "families in Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, Alabama, Colorado, North Dakota and New Mexico" would start to receive notifications of health care termination by the end of the following month.
In April 2019, Brown was one of 41 senators to sign a bipartisan letter to the housing subcommittee praising the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 4 Capacity Building program as authorizing "HUD to partner with national nonprofit community development organizations to provide education, training, and financial support to local community development corporations (CDCs) across the country" and expressing disappointment that President Trump's budget "has slated this program for elimination after decades of successful economic and community development." The senators wrote of their hope that the subcommittee would support continued funding for Section 4 in Fiscal Year 2020.
Brown voted against prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting children in Washington D.C. He received a 100% score from the Human Rights Campaign in 2005-2006, indicating a pro-gay rights stance. On December 18, 2010, he voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.
In October 2018, Brown was one of 20 senators to sign a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to reverse the rolling back of a policy that granted visas to same-sex partners of LGBTQ diplomats who had unions that were not recognized by their home countries, writing that too many places around the world have seen LGBTQ individuals "subjected to discrimination and unspeakable violence, and receive little or no protection from the law or local authorities" and that refusing to let LGBTQ diplomats bring their partners to the US would be equivalent of upholding "the discriminatory policies of many countries around the world."
Brown praised West Virginia teachers who held a nine-day strike in early 2018, saying: "When this society fails to pay its teachers a living wage, it's pretty shameful. Those teachers engaged the public to put pressure on a Republican legislature that historically underfunds education and they got the legislature to finally do the right thing. So I was proud of those teachers for standing up." He also praised other recent activist demonstrations, such as the gun violence protests by Parkland High School students in Florida and the Women's March after President Trump's inauguration, saying: "That's what makes our country great -- when people stand up and push back when they're mistreated."
In July 2019, following reports that the Trump administration intended to cease protecting spouses, parents and children of active-duty service members from deportation, Brown was one of 22 senators led by Tammy Duckworth to sign a letter arguing that the protection gave service members the ability "to fight for the United States overseas and not worry that their spouse, children, or parents will be deported while they are away" and that its termination would both cause service members personal hardship and negatively affect their combat performance.
In February 2017, Brown and 30 other senators signed a letter to Kaléo Pharmaceuticals in response to an increase of the opioid-overdose-reversing device Evzio's price from $690 in 2014 to $4,500. They requested the detailed price structure for Evzio, the number of devices Kaléo Pharmaceuticals set aside for donation, and the totality of federal reimbursements Evzio received in the previous year.
In June 2019, Brown was one of ten senators to cosponsor the Safe Freight Act, a bill that would require freight trains to have one or more certified conductors and a certified engineer on board who can collaborate on how to protect the train and people living near the tracks. The legislation was meant to correct a Federal Railroad Administration rollback of a proposed rule intended to establish safety standards.
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." In the book he recommends 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.
In May 2016, Brown called for tariffs to be imposed on imports from China and praised Hillary Clinton's plan to enforce rules and trade laws and triple the enforcement budgets at the United States Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission.
In January 2018, Brown expressed support for President Trump's decision to impose tariffs on washing machine imports. He supported his first trade agreement in 2019, after never having previously supported one while in Congress. He voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement because he said it would send Ohioan jobs to Mexico, but supported a new trade agreement for United States, Mexico and Canada after a "step toward a pro-worker trade policy, but it's not a perfect agreement."
Brown's second wife, Connie Schultz, was a 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 in 2005. She is also the author of Life Happens (2007) and ...and His Lovely Wife (2008), in which she describes her experiences as the spouse of a U.S. Senate candidate.
Brown was married to Larke Recchie from 1979 to 1987, and they had two children. During their divorce proceedings, Recchie obtained a restraining order against Brown to keep him from harassing or annoying her and from "doing bodily harm." In a supporting affidavit, she said she was "in fear for the safety and well-being of myself and our children due to [Brown's] physical violence and abusive nature" and that Brown had "intimidated, pushed, shoved and bullied" her on several occasions. Years later, Recchie walked back her claims of physical violence against Brown.
Recchie and Schultz later became friends and filmed an ad together for Brown's 2006 Senate campaign. Recchie hosted a fund-raising event for Brown's 2012 reelection campaign against Republican Josh Mandel and issued a statement saying, "I understand that in campaigns you often have to go after your opponent, but Josh Mandel should know better than to go after our family. I ask that he immediately put a stop to this kind of politics. I was proud to support Sherrod in 2006 and I'm proud to support him again this time around against Josh Mandel. Josh Mandel should immediately stop this kind of dirty campaigning."
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 three books:
|Democratic||Merrill Kesier Jr.||163,628||21.89%|
|Republican||Mike DeWine (incumbent)||1,761,037||43.82%||-15.8|
|Democratic gain from Republican||Swing||-17.9|
|Democratic||Sherrod Brown (incumbent)||802,678||100.00|
|Democratic||Sherrod Brown (incumbent)||2,762,766||50.70%||-5.46%|
|Democratic||Sherrod Brown (incumbent)||613,373||100%|
|Democratic||Sherrod Brown (incumbent)||2,358,508||53.40%||+2.70%|