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(Photo of Rep. Sherrod Brown and his wife, Connie Shultz — I just love this picture.  Sherrod joins us in the comments section to chat about his candidacy for the Senate in OH.  We think he has a very good chance of picking up the Senate seat for Democrats in November, especially with your support.  Please join us to discuss politics — and give Sherrod a big FDL welcome.  — CHS)

A couple weeks ago we did a live blog session with Charlie Brown and I noticed that everyone seemed very much into meeting Charlie’s wife Jan. In fact, contributions to the Blue America ACT BLUE Page jumped significantly once Charlie introduced her. I guess we all got a feel for the man we are supporting for congress once we started getting to known his wife a bit.

I haven’t met or spoken to Congressman Sherrod Brown’s wife, Connie Schultz. Sherrod raved so much about what an extraordinary woman she is when I spoke to him a few days ago that I decided to check her out. Last year she won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Intrigued, I read her Cleveland Plain Dealer columns that won her the prize over finalists Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times and Tommy Tomlinson of the Charlotte Observer. I quickly went from intrigued to inspired and I understood precisely why Sherrod sounded so enthusiastic when he spoke about her.

A professor and an author, Sherrod has been in public service almost since he graduated from Yale. After serving as a state legislator and Ohio Secretary of State, he was elected to Congress in 1992. He is in the midst of a challenge to rubber stamp Republican Senator Mike DeWine, an integral part of the most corrupt political machine in the country, long in cahoots with criminal elements like Tom Noe, Alex Arshinkoff and Ken Blackwell.

Although Sherrod has a great progressive voting record, it is his leadership record that makes him such a natural for the Ohio U.S. Senate seat.

Sherrod is a tower of strength when it comes to all the issues that matter to grassroots progressives outside the Beltway. Having a person like Sherrod Brown in the Senate mean far more than just another good vote. He spits in the eye of the lobbyists and corporate criminals who corrupt our entire political system. He has been one of a handful of congressmen who has consistently fought back the encroachments of Big Pharma as they’re unquenchable greed and penchant for corruption have all but wrecked the American health care system.

"Medicare Part D," he told me, "was legislation written by the drug industry" to benefit the drug industry. "Voters here in Ohio are more and more understanding that their elected officials are in thrall to the drug industry, the oil industry and the HMOs and that we have to take them on."

And one of the things that I liked most about Sherrod is that he stands up for his principles — and for working people — regardless of who Big Business paid off to do their bidding at the public expense. When Bill Clinton and the odious DLC (a branch of the Republican Party inside the Democratic Party) were pushing the corporate agenda, Sherrod stood up to them and fought back. He led the battle against "free" trade (and tried to make people understand why FAIR trade is better) and he battled Clinton and his reactionary allies on NAFTA and on PNTR with China as hard as he battled Bush and the same reactionaries greedballs on CAFTA.

Similarly, Sherrod was in the front lines fighting Clinton’s catastrophic welfare "reform" proposals and his misguided DOMA legislation.

Like many grassroots Democrats, Sherrod doesn’t get the feeling that the folks inside the Bush Regime are well-intentioned. Although he agreed with them when it came to go after Al Qaeda forcefully in Afghanistan, he was dismayed when they abandoned the fight there and attacked Iraq. He was one of the earliest, most outspoken and most consistent opponents of the Bush Regime policy in Iraq — which brings us right to Mike DeWine, the rubber stamp incumbent who has been a consistent supporter of Bush’s policies and agenda — at home and abroad.

Although current polls show Sherrod beating DeWine by between 5 and 8 points, the race is still considered too close to call. Sherrod and his team — in conjunction with Congressman Ted Strickland, the Democratic candidate for Governor — are taking ballot security very seriously, far more seriously than the Kerry campaign ever did.

But beyond that Sherrod needs to get the public to go beyond 3 mass media memes about DeWine that are just plain false. The always paint him as "a nice guy." He isn’t. He’s a vicious partisan gut-fighter with a fake smile. He slyly questions his opponents’ patriotism and implies they are soft of terrorism, the old Rove trick, At the same time he has his own little tricks and was recently caught red handed doctoring photos of the World Trade Center for a campaign ad.

Even in his earliest days, DeWine was a lowlife creep with a decidedly nasty edge. I remember him railing against John Glenn in an early (losing) campaign, screeching hysterically that if Glenn had his way the Berlin Wall would still be standing. Ohio voters were repulsed by DeWine’s extremism and when he came back to the political stage, he had a new mask on. The media bought it; people are skeptical. And they are skeptical of his claim to be a "moderate." His voting record certainly isn’t moderate. DMI examined his record in the context of how his votes have impacted on the American middle class. His grade? A big fat F!

"Mike likes to paint himself as a victim in the media," Sherrod told me. "Poor Mike is in a bad year for Republicans… but everything he wanted has happened in the last 5 years. ‘It’s not my fault.’ Well, really it is. He’s done the bidding of Big Oil, Big Pharma… he’s been part of the team that passed the bankruptcy bill for the credit card companies; he’s been with Bush on all his right wing judges and he’s been behind all Bush’s tax unfair policies right up to the recent attempt to abolish the estate tax."

When I asked Sherrod what his top three priorities will be in January, he didn’t hesitate for a moment: he wants to increase the minimum wage, adopt the bipartisan 9/11 Commission recommendations, and make sure that government can negotiate drug prices for 40 million Medicare beneficiaries. Sounds like a good start to me!

And if it sounds like a good start to you, Sherrod’s campaign is the newest edition to our Blue America Communities ACT BLUE Page. Let’s move him up that list!

And since Sherrod is such an all-American kind of guy with such wholesome, all-American values– like inclusiveness, generosity, sincerity, integrity, acceptance– we’re offering the first 25 donors a CD from an all-American band, Son Volt. This is a rare promo copy (never sold in stores) called Selections From the dvd SON VOLT LIVE– 6 STRING BELIEF. Anyone not interested in the cd just add a cent to your contribution so I know not to send you one.