At a media event held Thursday morning at Commons at Livingston, the first development of its kind in Ohio that provides 25 one-bedroom apartments for disabled vets and another 25 one-bedroom apartments for chronically homeless and disabled vets, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) outlined a plan to further support the Department of Veterans Affairs goal of eliminating veteran homelessness by 2015. At the event, Sen. Brown, now viewed by many as the top Democratic official in Ohio, announced nearly $220,000 in new federal funding to provide rental assistance and clinical services for homeless veterans in Columbus as part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing voucher program.
Following comments by Ron Lebsock, representing the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, and Alan McCullough, a former Marine now residing in Central Ohio at The Commons, Sen. Brown answered questions from reporters. With daily news now saturated with coverage of the arrival of the fatal West African disease called Ebola to the United States and the spread of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in the Middle East, reports from the front lines of America’s midterm elections, now less than three weeks away, have taken a back seat to disease and political turmoil.
OhioNewsBureau [ONB] had a chance to pose a couple questions to Sen. Brown, who won a bitter and expensive reelection campaign in 2012, on what Democrats will do after Nov. 4th, should the common wisdom of pollsters and pundits persevere that it won’t be a banner year for Democrats in Ohio. If Gov. Kasich does win big over his Democratic challenger, could it also mean a sad election night for downticket Democrats?
The still feisty former two-term secretary of state and congressman turned senator, pushed back on the belief that Democrats will get shellacked this year much like they did in 2010. “I don’t think we are,” Brown said, emphasizing that, with the exception of the top of the ticket, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, whose campaign got off to a bumpy start and headed downhill from there, downticket candidates like Connie Pillich, David Pepper, John Patrick Carney and Nina turner represent the “best group of four downticket candidates I’ve seen….there is potential in all four of them.” Sen. Brown added, “I’m not willing to say this election is a disaster.”
He underscored the notion that people are not happy with the direction of Ohio under the Kasich Administration. “There have been huge budget cuts in communities so that highways are worse, roads are worse, public services are worse, police and fire we don’t fund well enough, public health we don’t fund well enough,” he said, attributing these shortcomings to a “far right state legislature which is clearly out of touch.”
The Senator from Ohio also made it clear that he’s not interested in higher office, a notion some have considered, given the importance that Ohio plays in presidential election years. Republicans hope to win Ohio in 2016, a feat no candidate who has been elected president has failed to do. The last president to win Ohio but lose the White House was Richard M. Nixon in 1960. John F. Kennedy did not win Ohio, but he did beat Nixon.
Now that Ohio will be the location for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and with the jury still out on whether Columbus will be the Buckeye city Democrats pick for their national convention in two years, GOP officials think favorite sons like Gov. Kasich and Senator Rob Portman, whose term coincidentally is up in two years, could be presidential contenders in their own right or attractive picks for vice president.
Some have countered that Sen. Brown, a strong voice for unions, manufacturing and constituent groups like seniors, students and minorities whose voices often go unheard, could be the right pick for a Democrat running to win the White House. Whether it’s Hillary Clinton, widely viewed as the front runner for the nomination, or someone else, would Sen. Brown want to be or agree to be on that ticket, if his presence meant winning Ohio for Democrats instead of letting it potentially drift away to the GOP?
“I’m not interested, period,” Sen. Brown said. “I’m not interested in running for president or being the vice president running mate. That case is closed.” Brown went on to say Columbus has a 5 percent chance of being selected as the Democratic host city for its national convention. The two-term senator said he’s been “working hand in glove” with national Democrats, but offered no predictions. Brown recounted why Columbus should be picked: A city with a great state university [The Ohio State University], a stadium that could seat 100,000 people, and the fact that “Columbus really wants it.” He reminded reporters that it would be the first time in American history that a convention from both parties came to the same state. “It’s never been in two cities in the same state.”