By announcing Friday he will vote against Jeff Sessions to be attorney general of the United States, Sen. Sherrod Brown appears to be the first Democrat to say he will oppose the nomination of the Alabama Republican to head the Justice Department.
Brown, D-Ohio, met privately with Sessions for about 45 minutes Wednesday in Brown’s Capitol Hill office. Although Brown and Sessions have worked together on issues such as international trade, Brown at the end of the meeting told his Senate colleague he could not vote to confirm him.
In a statement, Brown said he had “serious concerns that Senator Session’s record on civil rights is at direct odds with the task of promoting justice and equality for all, and I cannot support his nomination.”
Because Republicans control the Senate, Sessions is expected to be confirmed. He was an early supporter of President-elect Donald Trump. But a substantial number of Democrats will join Brown and vote against Sessions.
But Brown, who faces re-election in 2018, is running the risk that his vote will anger Trump supporters in Ohio. Although Brown has twice won election to the Senate, Trump easily carried Ohio last November against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
For 36 years, I have not seen an instance where a cabinet vote has affected an election outcome,” said former Democratic congressman Dennis Eckart of Cleveland. “It is different for the Supreme Court, of course. Those votes do matter with voters.”
“If the choice in 2018 is between a vibrant voice or a weak echo, Ohioans will always vote the vibrant voice which is what Sherrod will be exercising on all of Trump’s initiatives as it relates to what is good for Ohioans,” Eckart said. “And in Sessions case there is a long record of questionable statements and judgments that reflect on his ability to be a fair voice for all Ohioans.”
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