Dear Ohio, Why Jennifer Brunner Should Be Your Next Senator

This past week, I learned more about Ohio politics than I ever wanted to know, in particular next Tuesday’s (May 4) Democratic primary contest between Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher. The winner will go up against Republican Rob Portman in the November general election.

I suggest you read Kelley Bell’s Huffington Post column to get more facts and colorful descriptions of the intra-party machinations than I have bandwidth to recount here.

My involvement has been only peripheral. I happened to jump into a Facebook conversation begun by one of my favorite columnists, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Connie Schultz, in which she bemoaned acrimony between women about the question of when (if ever) it’s incumbent on us to support our sisters who are running for office.

Well, you know me, I had to chime in with my opinion that when there are two candidates–one male and one female–who are both well-qualified and represent my positions major issues I care about, I will support the woman until such time as women have our fair 50% share of the elected official slots. Then and only then will gender not matter.

Adding to the Ohio intrigue, I learned after a bit of sleuthing is that Fisher has used time-honored good-old-boy strong arm tactics to capture the field (one blogger referred to this as “how to destroy a party from within”), sewing up the establishment big money contributions even from many people who privately say they prefer Brunner–and might even vote for her. This probably explains why in spite of Fisher’s huge money advantage, the polls have shown the candidates neck-and-neck until this week when Quinnipiac polls showed Fisher in the primary lead.

Being inclusive doesn't end with simply being welcoming.

Leading inclusive conversations requires a new "language."

Get my new resource to help organizations like yours not just survive, but embrace these times of change & thrive.

FREE Language of Leadership Guide Book


The Women’s Campaign Forum has been on the ground working hard for Brunner. Staffer Julie Daniels asserts the race is far from over (the photo is of Brunner in front of her Courage Express bus, a nod both to the fact that she won the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her work to clean up Ohio’s electoral act and the reality that because she has so little money, she must rely on grassroots efforts and going directly to the voters.)

The polls would have you believe that Jennifer is out of this race. But I’m here to tell you that this race is neck and neck. 35% of Ohio voters remain undecided, and 55% might change their mind.

Yesterday, a reporter from the Columbus Dispatch rode with us on the Courage Express. He sent Jennifer an email that said,

“As per the poll that you are dead in the water I have one thing to say.” And then he attached a picture of President Truman holding up a paper that says, “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

I’m telling you this race is still a toss-up. With Brunner driving around the state, meeting residents face-to-face, we still have the chance to earn the support needed in this primary.

This isn’t a good-against-bad contest to be sure; good-against-good is always the harder decision. Jill Miller Zimon wrote on her blog WritesLikeSheTalks (don’t you love that name?) about the respect she has for both candidates and why at the same time she never hesitated to put her support behind Brunner:

As Secretary of State, Jennifer has demonstrated without question her ability to tackle an utter mess of a system. She tackled a system that suffered from extreme degradation of trust. She rescued an untrusted system that undergirds every belief we have and every hope to which we cling that we can make a difference in our world: the electoral system.

Is there anything more basic to the reason why our country – our state – our county – doesn’t deteriorate into fist fights in our capitol buildings or on our streets when eventual winners and losers are declared?


Check out Jennifer Brunner in her own words here and I think you’ll agree–and if you’re in Ohio, will pull the Brunner lever on Tuesday.


  1. arebr614 on May 1, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I first met Jennifer Brunner at Attorney General Ricard Cordray’s inauguration. Mrs. Brunner struck me differently than any of the other public officials at the state house that day. She had engaged me in conversation, actually cared about what I thought or had to say. She even took time for a photo opp.

    When I heard she was considering running for senate, I decided to support her all the way. Marched in the Columbus Pride Parade for her, have volunteered for her. I even registered as a democrat so I can vote for her on the 4th (I hate party politics, and never dreamed of registering).

    Ohio needs Jennifer Brunner in the senate. Her and Sherrod Brown will work together with the other members of congress and do what needs to be done in order for Ohio to get back on track.
    Should she not win the primary, I’m printing up Jennifer Brunner for Governor t-shirts.

  2. Anastasia P on May 2, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks for a good post and for the shout-out and link to my post on Ohio Daily Blog. I’ve been following this race since before there was a race (back when we all thought Tim Ryan would be the candidate). What Jennifer has done to stay competitive is incredible, in light of the fact that her opponent got 18 times more cash, the DSCC was actively working against her, most Ohio officeholders had their arms twisted to endorse her opponent or stay silent, the governor was working on her opponent’s behalf, and her opponent got most of the newspaper endorsements (although many were bizarre, actually praising Jennifer more highly). I completely agree that, all else being equal, I will vote for the woman until we are at something like parity, which is a long way off in Congress. In this case, however, it is clear Jennifer would make a better Senator. She’s more attuned to people, genuinely connects with them and truly understands how regular people live.

  3. Gloria Feldt on May 2, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Get out the vote will be of utmost importance now. So few people, sadly, vote in primaries. If Jennifer can get her voters out with the help of supporters like you two, she could belie the polls.

  4. Cheryl Davis on May 2, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    i was undecided until yesterday when i read about a debate between brunner and fisher. i was leaning towards brunner, but felt that fisher was a good person and deserved my vote as well. then i read that brunner is opposed to capital punishment, but fisher is not. that sealed the vote for me. i will support either one against portman, but jennifer brunner is my definite choice.

  5. Aletha on May 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    The turnout was pathetic. Democratic voters are staying home in droves, unlike Republicans. All that happy talk from the powers that be must not be very convincing. It appears WCF has finally had enough, posting this interesting rant, Women Need an Establishment of Their Own. I heartily agree, though I think the author did not go quite far enough.

  6. Gloria Feldt on May 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Turnout in primaries are notoriously low, as you know, Aletha. I am impressed with WCF’s work these days. The president, Sam Bennett, is very strong.

  7. Aletha on May 7, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Turnout in US elections in general is notoriously low, compared to the rest of the world. That, among other things, makes me think democracy in USA is a joke, at the expense of the people. Republicans are making a big deal of how their voter turnout went up, as compared to four years ago, while Democratic turnout dropped. Meanwhile the number of independents continues to rise.

    I know WCF considers itself nonpartisan, unlike organizations such as Emily’s List. If WCF started encouraging women to break the shackles of political reality, this country might turn into a real democracy. At the very least, the Democratic Party establishment deserves a good scare, after all it has done for women lately.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.