Candidate Profile from Congressional QuarterlyGeorge V. Voinovich (R) of Cleveland
Open Seat - Current Governor
Voinovich will be expected to bring a rare commodity to the increasingly polarized Senate: moderation.
A Republican who won the mayor's office three times in heavily Democratic Cleveland before serving two terms as Ohio's governor, Voinovich has an unusual ability to build alliances across political divides.
He won plaudits from both Republicans and Democrats in his Senate campaign, leaving office as possibly the most popular Ohio governor of the century, with job approval ratings ranging above 70 percent.
A devout Catholic, Voinovich aligns himself with conservatives on such social issues as restricting abortions. Like many Republicans, he favors cutting government regulations. As governor, he sometimes clashed with traditional Democratic constituencies drawing fire from environmentalists over air pollution standards and battling with labor leaders over an initiative to overhaul the state's workers' compensation system.
However, he is a moderate on fiscal issues. He used a combination of increased taxes and reduced spending to bring the state's budget into surplus. On the other hand, he implemented huge funding increases in a number of social programs, such as Head Start. Education was one of his top priorities as governor, although he failed to win a proposal to boost school funding through a 1-cent sales tax increase.
His fiscal stance could rankle some of his more conservative new colleagues in the Senate. While on the campaign trail, he criticized Republican efforts to cut taxes by tapping into the projected budget surplus and he echoed President Clinton's call that Social Security must be protected first.
In fact, he said one of his top priorities would be to shore up the entitlement program by erecting a "firewall" between the Social Security trust funds and the rest of the budget.
Like many candidates, Voinovich trod carefully on an issue that may come before the Senate: the possible impeachment trial and removal of Clinton from office. Voinovich said in his campaign that Clinton should resign because he has lost "moral leadership." But he did not say whether he would vote to convict Clinton if the House were to impeach the president.
Dry and detail-oriented in his approach to work, Voinovich has had some ethics problems of his own. His chief of staff spent six months in jail on misdemeanor counts stemming from his attempt to cover up remodeling work on his home that was done free of charge by a state contractor. Voinovich himself has faced questions about lucrative state contracts going to contributors and those who worked as fundraisers in his campaigns.