A Big Bright Line

Late last week many of my supporters in Cuyahoga County received a slick, expensive direct mail piece with a cover photo of dark storm clouds mounting atop the Capitol on the side where the U.S. Senate is located. Featured prominently in front of this dismal scene is a bright red silhouette of Ohio with superimposed unhappy people inside of the red state (even though Ohio went blue for President Obama in 2008). Hovering over all this is a bold headline that says:

“Washington is Working Against Ohio Families.”

When I saw the cover of the piece, it looked like it was an invitation to a Tea Party rally (there are lots of them in Ohio). My prospective Republican opponent in the fall, Rob Portman, has been courting their favor, so I thought, well, maybe it was from him. (After all, in the period of the last 5 years he served as former President Bush’s trade representative, shepherding anti-labor, anti-family trade agreements that have hurt Ohio’s working families.) Or maybe, I thought, it’s the Ohio Republican Party, which keeps losing important Ohio elections and as of late blundered in sending absentee ballot applications for Republican primary ballots (Ohio’s primary is a closed primary) to Democrats with the enticement that they could get an extra ballot (for the fall election) with one request. (Ohio law doesn’t allow this, even though many wish it did, including me.) Well, on the other hand, I thought, maybe this is a piece pushed out by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has targeted Ohio as one of the top three Democratic take-away opportunities in the nation.


I opened up the piece, and there it was – a big, bright turquoise background with a color photo of my Democratic primary opponent, Lt. Governor Lee Fisher, wearing a big grin.

I could not believe it. Our own Lt. Governor, an ostensibly loyal Democrat, saying Washington has failed Ohio families. What? Ripping into the President, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democratic Senators, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many of our own Democratic House members?

Elections are about differences. So often I’m asked how my primary opponent and I differ on issues. And so often, when I’ve taken a principled stand on a controversial issue (like the Employee Free Choice Act, same sex marriage or the war in Afghanistan, he’s jumped on board right after me with a terse, brief statement, and the differences between us seem to dissolve for the time being.

This time, the line between us is a big bright line, and he just drew it and put it out there for the world to see. Lee Fisher, by his own admission, believes “Washington is Working Against Ohio Families.” I believe there are many in Washington who are doing just the opposite – putting their heart and soul into working FOR Ohio families – and they are getting some major things done.

Let’s start with President Obama.

I am proud of President Obama for signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as his first bill signed, for restoring basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers.

I am proud of the President and those in his administration and Congress who have helped us change the direction of our nation’s foreign policy, by moving to end the war in Iraq.

I am proud of those in Washington, from the President on through, who have worked to provide an additional $15 billion to help grow our nation’s small businesses.

I am proud of the Democratic Senate and the Democratic House for passing, and the President for signing, the CARD (Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure) Act to protect Americans from unfair and deceptive credit card practices.

I am proud of the President and all of those in Washington who supported his efforts to expand Pell Grants and make available another $30 billion to help make college more affordable to middle class families, and provide an additional $5 billion for Head Start and other early learning programs, as well as for children with special needs.

And I am especially proud of President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, and every other Democrat in Washington who helped pass health care reform – a reform that has been talked about for 100 years and finally took shape in a new law that will make health care more affordable, make health insurers more accountable, expand health coverage to nearly all Americans, and improve our health system with sustainable practices such as an emphasis on preventive care.

That’s why, when my opponent makes the head-scratching slam in his own direct mail advertising that, “Washington is Working Against Ohio Families,” I have to shake my head and say, slowly and incredulously, “No, Lee, most Democrats in Washington are working FOR Ohio families – and Ohio needs to send a strong, progressive voice who is unafraid to join our great Senator Sherrod Brown on the floor of the U.S. Senate to help advance the President’s agenda, not torpedo it.

My name is Jennifer Brunner, and I am running for the U.S. Senate in Ohio’s Democratic primary, proud to fight as a progressive champion and unapologetic about it. The President has done so much already, and there is so much more to do – starting with financial reform to tackle and prevent further abuses of Wall Street financial institutions and their top players (who, by the way, have been – not surprisingly – contributing generously to both Lee Fisher and Rob Portman). I won’t take money from CEOs and PACs of banks that received TARP funds. I know the work to reform their financial practices that have hurt so many Americans will be hard-fought and tough, and taking money from them just weakens the resolve to fight for this needed change.

If you believe as I do that President Obama, Leader Reid, Speaker Pelosi and courageous Democratic voices in Washington – who, I might add, accomplished all of the above with little (and all too often no) help from the other side of the aisle – need another champion of progressive causes in Washington, then I ask you to step up, take notice and take action. That is the best way we can KEEP Washington on the side of Ohio families who need jobs and need them now. My plan is a common sense plan that is people- and small business-oriented. Ohio’s primary election is Tuesday, May 4, 2010. Now is the time to step up. You can help make the difference. Take a look at my website, and let others know it’s time. There is a difference between the candidates. It matters, and you can help make sure that difference is reflected on Primary Election Day on May 4th.

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