In a dramatic sign of the fallout from Senate Bill 5, the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio Tuesday endorsed Sen. Sherrod Brown for re-election, the first time the organization has backed a Democratic Senate candidate since 1988.
The FOP, which represents 25,000 active and retired police officers across the state, said it will back Brown against Republican challenger Josh Mandel because Brown vigorously campaigned last year in favor of a statewide ballot issue that struck down Senate Bill 5, a measure signed into law by Gov. John Kasich and which curbed the bargaining rights of public employees.
“Senator Brown was one of our strongest allies in the fight against,’’ the collective bargaining law, said Jay McDonald, president of the FOP.
A Mandel spokesman declined comment.
For the past two decades, the FOP has reliably backed Republican Senate candidates. The FOP endorsed former Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, in his unsuccessful 2006 re-election campaign against Brown. The organization supported Republican Rob Portman in his winning Senate campaign against Democrat Lee Fisher.
The last time the FOP opted for a Democrat was 1988 when it endorsed Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio.
In a statement released by his campaign, Brown said he “was proud to stand with the FOP last year as we fought against Senate Bill 5, an egregious attack on our courageous police officers that Ohioans roundly rejected.’’
Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said that “policemen across Ohio have a long memory and they remember that Senator Sherrod Brown stood loyally by their side during the fight against Senate Bill 5 while Republicans like Josh Mandel turned their backs on our local community heroes.’’
In addition, the FOP delegates at their convention in suburban Cleveland endorsed Republican Ohio Supreme Court Justices Terrence O’Donnell and Robert Cupp and Democratic Justice Yvette McGee Brown for re-election.