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As we crawl toward November, Im fortunate to interview more and more candidates. Each candidate is unique, but I dont know that Ive seen two so very different candidates in a matter of one hour as I did recently, when I interviewed Arizona Democratic Senate hopeful Rodney Glassman and then Ohio Democratic Congressional hopeful Paula Brooks.
Brooks, 55, is a two-term Franklin County (Columbus) commissioner who is challenging five-term Republican Rep. Patrick Tiberi in the 12th district. She was elected to the commission in 2004 after serving two terms on the Upper Arlington City Council. She was re-elected in 2008.
Im not sure whether Brooks can knock off Tiberi in the current environment, but I am sure that she is a terrific candidate. I liked her a great deal.
Personable and well-spoken, Brooks struck me as someone who thinks seriously about issues and about how to make a difference. She seems approachable, not because she is some smiling back-slapper, but because she seems interested in people and in solving problems.
Brooks peppers her answers to questions with references to votes she cast and issues she took on. Unlike some candidates who rely on prepared talking points and automatic responses, she actually thought before answering questions.
But Brooks is running in what is going to be a difficult year for Democrats. Her bent seems predictably liberal, and she falls back on the usual lines of attack against Tiberi including blaming the nations and states current problems on President George W. Bush, a line of attack that is not likely to be particularly effective in the fall.
While Tiberi serves on the Ways and Means Committee and is close to Minority Leader John Boehner (a fellow Ohio Republican), he hasnt been a robot for his party. CQs Politics in America 2010 noted that Tiberi voted to boost fuel efficiency standards, supported the expansion of the State Childrens Health Insurance Program and was one of only 35 Republicans to back a measure outlawing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In addition, he initially opposed the Troubled Asset Relief Program but eventually voted for the final bill after heavy lobbying from the White House and Boehner.
Tiberis district went for President Barack Obama 54 percent to 44 percent, but it went for Bush narrowly in 2004, 51 percent to 49 percent. Well see whether Brooks, who trailed Tiberi 2 to 1 in fundraising and 3 to 1 in cash on hand as of April 14, can actually win given the national Republican advantage, but Im pretty sure that Democrats couldnt have come up with a better candidate.
Glassman, a 32-year-old Arizonan, is a whole different kind of candidate.
Glassman grew up in Fresno, Calif., but finished high school in Chicago so that he could play ice hockey. He attended Cornell University for a year before moving to Arizona to join his family.