Even if we weren’t repulsed by Ohio Congressman James Renacci’s taking the low political road, we still would not have endorsed him in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. That’s because Renacci has failed to make a persuasive case for his candidacy.
But such reasoning became academic when the 58-year-old Republican representative from Wadsworth decided to dig up Democrat Brown’s divorce from three decades ago to argue that he’s unfit to hold public office.
What makes Renacci’s actions all the more egregious is that the senator’s former wife has criticized the challenger’s attack on her family. She has gone so far as to request that the four-term 16th District congressman stop making her private life an issue in the Nov. 6 general election.
But rather than abandon that strategy, Renacci has doubled down on his attacks, airing a campaign commercial that focuses on affidavits filed in the divorce.
Ohio voters should reject such sleazy politics that were the hallmark of Republican Donald J. Trump’s presidential bid in 2016. Trump’s no-holds-barred strategy proved to be a winner for him. The first-time officeholder is completing his second year in the White House.
Renacci is an unabashed supporter of President Trump, who has continued to pursue his divide-and-conquer strategy.
Brown, 65, of Cleveland, is seeking his third, six-year term in the Senate, and has earned the unconditional support of Ohioans of all political stripes.
To be sure, there are Republicans who derisively refer to the incumbent’s liberal leanings to argue that he’s out of touch with the state of Ohio.
That could not be further from the truth.
Brown has earned a national reputation as the champion of the middle class and the working poor. In Congress, he has been one of the most vocal critics of China and other countries that have long dumped artificially low-priced products on the lucrative American market.
His fierce opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement has made him an ally of President Trump, whose position on trade mirrors that of the Democratic Party.
Brown has applauded Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on a wide range of products from China and other countries that have long indulged in unfair trade practices. And the senator has given the president high marks for forcing Mexico and Canada to renegotiate NAFTA to put the partners on an equal footing.
But it is Brown’s laser-like focus on the American automobile industry that is deserving of the Mahoning Valley’s acknowledgment and appreciation.
He has criticized General Motors, Chrysler and Ford for closing plants in the U.S. and building new ones in low-wage countries like Mexico.
Indeed, he has taken General Motors to task for eliminating two shifts at its Lordstown assembly complex, which makes the Chevrolet Cruze compact car, while expanding a plant in Mexico to accommodate the new Chevrolet Blazer SUV.
In a conversation with GM CEO Mary Barra, the Democratic senator noted that he was one of the leading supporters of the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler during the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama.
It is noteworthy that Renacci opposed the bailout, as did Trump when he was a real-estate developer.
The 52-year-old Lordstown plant would have been a casualty of a bankrupt GM.
The Chevrolet Cruze, which at one time was GM’s best-selling vehicle, is no longer in great demand. Crossovers, SUVs and trucks are all the rage, which makes the future of the Lordstown plant uncertain, at best.
Brown is working closely with Ohio’s other senator, Republican Rob Portman, and with area congressmen Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, and Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, to pressure GM into keeping the Lordstown plant open.
The lawmakers have also joined forces in pursuing the expansion of the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, home to the unique 910th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve.
The Vindicator endorses Brown for a third term in the Senate – without reservation.
Editor’s Note: Details of the candidates’ positions on a range of issues can be found in Vindicator news stories, videos of Editorial Board interviews posted on vindy.com and by accessing the candidate surveys on the website.