Local Politics: Brown and DeWine boast long, resilient careers

William Hershey
Mike DeWine

As the 2018 campaign season heats up, don't expect to see U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine whooping it up at the same rally.

Brown's a Democrat and DeWine's a Republican. Besides, there's probably some bad feelings left from 2006 when Brown knocked DeWine, a two-term incumbent, out of the U.S. Senate.

The two, however, have something in common. They are the long-distance runners of Ohio politics.

Since 1980, one or both of them has been on the ballot every two years, except for 2008 and 2016. They're expected to be there again next year when Brown, 64, seeks a third Senate term and DeWine, 70, tries to win the Republican nomination for governor.

Cynics might dismiss them as “career politicians.” A closer look shows two officeholders with healthy appetites for public service and a shared resilience.

Brown was 21 in 1974 when he was elected to the Ohio House, the boy wonder of Ohio politics. The good times rolled in 1982 and 1986 when he was elected secretary of state.

In 1990, however, Republican Bob Taft defeated Brown. Republicans hadn't seen the last of him, though. Brown won an open U.S. House seat in 1992. He was re-elected six times before defeating DeWine in the 2006 Senate race.

Brown has become one of the Senate's leading progressives and, in Ohio, he's a lonely reminder that Democrats once fielded strong candidates who won big elections.

Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans have learned not to underestimate DeWine, slight of stature.

He won a state Senate seat in 1980 and in 1982 was elected to the first of four U.S. House terms. He wanted to run for governor in 1990 but settled for lieutenant governor on George Voinovich's winning ticket for governor.

DeWine ran a respectable but losing 1992 U.S. Senate campaign to John Glenn, the Democratic icon.

In 1994 he won a four-way race for the GOP Senate nomination and defeated Democrat Joel Hyatt, son-in-law of outgoing Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, in the general election. He was re-elected in 2000 before the 2006 defeat to Brown.

DeWine was not finished. He defeated incumbent Democratic Attorney General Richard Cordray in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014.

There's no guarantee Brown and DeWine will win next year, but don't bet against them.

William Hershey is a former Washington correspondent and Columbus bureau chief for theAkron Beacon Journal and a former Columbus bureau chief for theDayton Daily News.