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Senate Sunday: For Ohio, Sherrod Brown Burns Brighter Than The Cuyahoga River. Wait, Let’s Rephrase That…

Sherrod Brown does ‘rumpled serious guy’ pretty well.

Sherrod Brown, the senior US Senator from Ohio, is one of our favorite senators (one sign of a dangerous addiction to politics is saying that you have “favorite senators,” but at least Yr Wonkette provides a good support group for the affliction). Brown is seeking his third term in the Senate, and he’s shown up on some lists of potentially endangered Democratic senators for 2018, since Ohio went for Donald Trump by 8 points in 2016. We know we keep saying this, but if Dems want a shot at taking the Senate back this fall, they’ll absolutely have to protect their incumbents, especially in states Trump won. With his pro-labor bona fides and solid progressive record, we’re betting Brown will be able to do just that — not that Democrats can afford to be complacent, of course.

Before his first Senate win in 2006, Brown had served in the House for 14 years; he’s since become one of the most reliable progressive voices in the Senate. During the very limited debate of the Great Big Tax Cuts For Rich Fuckwads Act of 2017, Brown got into a memorable fracas and hullabaloo with Senate Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch, who didn’t at all like being reminded that the tax cuts would help rich fuckwads, and resented Brown’s implication that Hatch cared more about said rich fuckwads than about ordinary folks who hope to someday become rich fuckwads themselves.

Brown made a fairly simple case against tax cuts for rich fuckwads and the Church of the Holy Trickle Down:

Companies don’t just give away higher wages just because they have more money. Corporations are sitting on a lot of money now. They’re sitting on a lot of profits now. I don’t see wages going up.

As Hatch’s dudgeon proceeded to get high and he lectured Brown that he was sick and tired of Democrats accurately saying Republicans want to help the rich, Brown shot back — before being gavelled down — that tax cuts for the rich have never helped the middle class, but Congress never seems to learn that.

Brown also helped lead the fight against killing Obamacare, and for restoring funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And along with Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown has been one of the strongest opponents of Republicans’ attempts to gut the Dodd-Frank regulations on big Wall Street banks. If Dems can take back the Senate, Brown and Warren may even have a fighting chance at restoring key elements of the Glass-Steagall Act, whose repeal unter Bill Clinton helped set up the Great Recession. Damn it, Bill.

Also, whenever Brown is on All In with Chris Hayes, we always wait to see how he’ll drag in the inevitable mention of his website, Sherrod Brown dot com. It’s like a politics nerd version of looking forward to Alfred Hitchcock’s cameos in his own movies.

This year’s Senate race in Ohio was expected to be a replay of 2012’s contest between Brown and Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who lost to Brown by six points, but in January, Mandel withdrew from the Republican primary because his wife had serious health issues. After a bit of a scramble in which some Republican leaders tried — unsuccessfully — to recruit J.D. Vance, the author of the bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, the official-ish party nod went to congressman Jim Renacci, who was elected to the House during the Tea Party Hootenanny of 2010.

Renacci actually made it onto Yr Wonkette’s dickweasel radar before the election, thanks to this fun fact: he decided he needed to be in Congress to punish Barack Obama for socializing General Motors in that bailout that kept the company from going out of business altogether. Renacci had a Chevrolet dealership that was one of over a thousand that GM — not Obama — decided to close during its Chapter 11 reorganization, so obviously that was Barack Obama’s fault. At the time, Renacci was very, VERY upset about the “administration’s massive government intrusion into the private sector”:

When the Obama administration first announced its intention to take over GM and to dictate to small-business owners whether they can continue to operate privately owned businesses, I feared we were witnessing one of the darkest days in American capitalism […] And now the fear proves to be warranted.

Yup! It would have been so much better if there’d been no bailout, so Renacci’s Chevy dealership could have failed with honor, the free market way, along with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs as GM liquidated. Oh, and sure, Renacci took money from the “cash for clunkers” incentives, but only because Obama forced him to. Funny how we don’t hear so much anger at the GM bailout these days, huh? If GM had gone belly-up, of course, that would have been Obama’s fault too — but at least we’d have been spared Donald Trump taking credit for “bringing back” a Chevy assembly line that was never going to Mexico anyway.

Renacci hasn’t exactly been a standout in Congress — we’re assuming only our Ohio readers see his name and say “Oh, that rat bastard” — but he can truthfully say he’s on the Trump Train, for whatever good that may do him. Trump’s approval rating in Ohio is still above 50 percent, but of course that can change, and Republicans still think he’s the best, because they are terrible people.

Renacci was on hand for Trump’s weird, rambling “nobody knows what community college is” speech last week in Richfield, Ohio, which was supposed to be about Trump’s dumb infrastructure plan. Perhaps thinking Trump had actually addressed infrastructure instead of talking about how great the “Roseanne” reboot is, Renacci even wrote an op-ed piece for Fox News claiming it would fix America’s roads, bridges, and tunnels, and gliding past the small detail that the plan would mostly be great for private equity firms.

Last week, the Associated Press reported Renacci had failed to disclose some $ 50,000 in contributions he’d made to political campaigns — including his own first run for Congress — while he was registered as a lobbyist with a consulting firm he co-founded. The day after the report, his campaign said it had filed a “missing form” that clarified he hadn’t actually been active as a lobbyist during the two years in question, so now his paperwork is all in order.

Since the details involve numbers, federal reporting requirements, and backdated paperwork, it’s unclear whether any of this will amount to anything in either the Republican primary or the general election. The most prominent of several other Rs in the race for the May 8 primary, Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons, is certainly trying to make something of it, professing to be shocked, shocked that Renacci is a stinky swampy Washington insider lobbyist, and did he say “the swamp” enough, but again, since Renacci never actually did any lobbying, it seems doubtful Gibbons will get any traction on the issue.

Gibbons is at least an amusing little rightwinger, and even managed to win himself the distinction of a full PolitiFact debunking last week, in response to a favorite line in Gibbons’s stump speeches: Sherrod Brown majored in Russian Studies at Yale in the early 1970s, so obviously he’s a commie. In a February 20 interview with the “Republican Liberty Caucus of Ohio,” Gibbons presented his perfectly rational claim (it’s at the 7-minute Marx in the video):

You know, he majored in Russian studies at Yale University and when he majored in it — because he would have been in (the same year as) my class — Russia was a communist country. So he studied communism, and apparently he liked it, because a lot of his policies reflect that interest in Marxism.

So obviously, duh, if he studied Russia during the Cold War, Brown has to be a commie, just like (as Politifact notes) fellow Russian Studies majors Condoleeza Rice, Laura Ingraham, and former secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Which reminds us of an old joke we first encountered during the Reagan years: A Republican doctor asks a Democrat who’s a university dean, “Are you people still indoctrinating students with communism in your humanities classes?” And the dean replies, “Yep, and we’re indoctrinating students with cancer in the medical school.” (Look, we said it was “old,” not that it was “funny.”)

We also appreciate that Politifact took the time to point out that while Sherrod Brown is indeed a liberal who talks a lot about workers, he has in fact condemned communist countries several times. They also point out that for a would-be politician in the 1970s, Russian Studies would be a pretty
common major, especially if someone hoped to get into the State Department or other foreign policy jobs. They even quote a professor (clearly a commie) who notes that members of the Senate take that oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and all that. The only real surprise is that Gibbons’s claim only got an “Untrue” rating, not the more richly deserved “Pants On Fire.”

Still, the chain of custody of this particular debunking is kind of fun: Gibbons’s claim that Brown is a commie seems to have its origins — surprise! — in a Breitbart piece from 2012 which pointed out that the People’s World reprinted a 2003 editorial by Brown — which had nothing to do with communism or Marxism, but did say unkind things about Republicans scheduling late-night votes on Friday nights, which were calculated to get little coverage in the press. Politico notes the same piece also ran in mainstream papers, as if that mattered. Otherwise, it’s the usual hit piece you’d expect from Breitbart: commies liked Brown, so he’s a commie, and please don’t bring up this editorial when Breitbart insists Donald Trump’s popularity with white supremacists is merely an unfortunate coincidence.

Heck, if Gibbons had put any effort into his slur, he could have accused Brown of coming up with the Washington Post’s new motto, since that 2003 op-ed was titled “Democracy Crumbles in Darkness.” We hate it when we do better unhinged rightwing oppo research than rightwingers.

So, to summarize: Sherrod Brown is a progressive badass, his chief Republican opponent is a tea party idjit, the other Republicans are even worse, but since EVERY Democrat is being targeted by terrible people, please send Sherrod some money right here, The End.

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[Vox / Axios / Cleveland.com / Politico / WCMH-TV / Five Thirty-Eight / Politifact / Sherrod Brown for Senate]

Program Note: Dear Shitferbrains will run tomorrow, because Yr Dok Zoom is still trying to figure out how to do two weekend features and still have something like a weekend. Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter so he can abuse you filthy fuckaducks on multiple online platforms!

Source: Politics – Wonkette

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