Much hangs in the balance for the 2018 midterm elections — especially for the Senate, and as usual national eyes will turn to an open seat in Ohio.
Republican Congressman Jim Renacci, who currently represents Ohio’s 16th congressional district in the House, will challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown for his seat at a crucial time.
Republicans currently hold a slim majority in the Senate, 51-49, providing the needed votes for President Donald Trump’s agenda. But with heated partisan issues like Supreme Court Justice appointments set to take center stage in the coming months, an even higher premium will be placed on Senate seats.
“One of the most important jobs a United States Senator does will be approving or denying Supreme Court Justices, who often stay on the court for decades and end up ruling on laws that can impact your everyday life and really set a precedent for the direction of the country,” said Leslie Shedd, a senior communications advisor for Renacci’s campaign.
Shedd recalled an event she attended a few years back where former Speaker of the House John Boehner asked the crowd what a president’s important job was. The answer? Appointing Supreme Court Justices.
Shedd said this makes one of a Senator’s most important jobs either approving or denying these appointments and said this should not come down to party politics, criticizing Brown who announced his opposition to Neil Gorsuch almost immediately after Trump nominated him.
“It shouldn’t be about this party’s nominee or that party’s nominee,” Shedd said.
Brown has said he will meet with Trump’s latest nominee for the Supreme Court before deciding how to vote, something he did not do for Gorsuch.
“I plan to review Judge Kavanaugh’s record thoroughly and ask him tough questions face-to-face before I make my decision,” Brown told Cleveland 19 News. “I will not support any Justice who would take rights away from Ohioans.”
As far as college students are concerned, Renacci’s campaign is aware of the narrative that college campuses are liberal bastions, but believe that is changing.
“We’re seeing more and more college students that are getting involved in Republican politics and are getting involved in the conservative movement,” Shedd said. “When they see these pro-growth economic agendas that Congressman Renacci supports, like lowering taxes and eliminating unnecessary regulations that make it easier for businesses to grow and thrive, they realize that’s what they need, that’s the kind of leadership they need in Washington, the kind of leadership they need in Ohio.”
Shedd said the No. 1 thing college students need to worry about is getting a job after they graduate.
“That is the most important thing any college student should be looking at, is the job market and trying to figure out who has the best plan to help create better, higher-paying jobs for when they graduate from college,” Shedd said. “What college students need more than anything is a really great job market so that they can have opportunities to pick and choose from jobs that they like, jobs that they’re interested in and more importantly jobs they can grow and thrive in and create a career for themselves.”
Renacci himself is a small business owner who has owned and operated sixty businesses in Ohio. According to Shedd, he has created 1,500 jobs in the state while employing over 3,000 individuals.
This, she said, sets him apart from Brown who she described as a career politician who has never had to work a real job and makes Renacci better equipped to make the right decisions in Washington that lead to a good job market.
For Brown’s part, his campaign website lays out a plan that focuses on the work he has done to help the manufacturing industry as well as a five-part plan moving forward that includes among other things a $15 minimum wage.
“The choice in this election couldn’t be clearer. Sherrod has worked to make higher education more affordable, protect Ohio families’ healthcare and create opportunity in communities across our state, while Congressman Renacci has looked out only for himself,” said Izzi Levy, deputy press secretary for Brown’s campaign.
Ultimately, the seats won and lost this November will arguably have an outsized impact, but Shedd hopes young people recognize that every election is important and that they get involved, even if it isn’t on the same side as hers.
“Every election is important. Every time anyone has the opportunity to cast a vote it is one of the greatest rights we have ever been given,” she said. “I encourage everybody that is of legal voting age to get out there, learn about who’s running for office, learn about what’s on the ballot and vote for the person you think will help this country the best or this state the best or your city the best.”
Updated at 3:23 p.m. to include response from Sherrod Brown campaign