Brown Employs Students in Senate Race
“You have demanded change in Ohio, and I have heard your call,” wrote local democratic congressman Sherrod Brown in an email posted on his website. In November 2006, Brown, who lives in Avon, Ohio, will run for a seat in the US Senate.
College senior Brendan Kelley of the Oberlin College Democrats said that despite its size, Oberlin is exceptionally valuable for campaigners like Brown.
“Oberlin is actually pretty well known in the Ohio progressive political scene as being able to provide young, intelligent, motivated, capable people,” said Kelley.
Kelley is spearheading Oberlin’s chapter of the campaign. Though Oberlin’s base has only been in effect for a couple of weeks, Kelley said they have already rounded up 35 people to help with the campaign. Among the adults in the community, Oberlin politics professor Eve Sandberg has been the most involved in mobilizing students. Most of the volunteers are students studying politics.
In addition to volunteers, there are a few students in their last semester, and, with light course loads, who have been able to put in more hours for Brown’s campaign and are hoping to get paid. A number of students are also hoping to stay in Oberlin this summer and work on his campaign full-time.
Students have been commuting to Brown’s Amherst office to do their work, which includes researching and entering data about people who have donated in the past and then contacting the donors. Valerie Baron, a senior politics major, will be working in the campaign’s finance department.
“I got involved because, based on his experience, ideology and personality, Sherrod Brown is a dream candidate for US Senate,” she said, “He can — and will — win this seat!”
Brown is currently in the House of Representatives, where he has served for seven terms (13 years). During Winter Term, Kelley answered constituent mail, answered phones, conducted issue research and went to policy meetings while interning with Brown in Washington D.C. When he got back to school, he was asked to be Oberlin’s “campus field coordinator” for the campaign.
Brown is currently running unopposed in the Democratic primary. In November he will face the Republican candidate Mike DeWine. During the Kerry campaign in 2004, there were computers set up at the Oberlin Inn for students to conduct campaign work around the clock, and Kelley said that Brown’s campaign hopes to have a similar setup when it comes closer to the election date.
Two of Brown’s biggest campaign issues are healthcare and free trade. In terms of healthcare, Brown refused to accept for himself the congressional health plan until universal health care is available to every Ohioan.
“The congressional healthcare package is probably the best in the country,” said Kelley. “He is definitely the type of person that lives his values.”
Kelley added this “lead by example” characteristic has contributed to the way he is received by his peers.
“Often local politicians will talk to Sherrod before they make final decisions on local policy issues,” he said. “Sherrod is very much looked up to as a leader.”
“Pretty much any issue that a progressive person is going to be interested in, Sherrod is going to feel very strongly [about],” said Kelley, citing education, gay rights, pro-choice, the environment, fair trade, health care and the minimum wage campaign,” as exmamples.
“His bread and butter issues are really the bread and butter issues of
working Ohioans,” said Kelley. “If you believe in social justice,
if you believe in government representing average citizens, then Sherrod is the
candidate for you.”