Republican Jim Jordan has served Ohio’s 4th Congressional District for nearly seven terms, and has been overwhelmingly elected each time. In 2014 and again in 2018, he won the endorsement of this editorial board.
So it is not without pause that we endorse his Democratic opponent, Shannon M. Freshour, 46, of Marysville, this time around. A litigation paralegal with a master’s degree in American government from Johns Hopkins University, Freshour is untested politically and lacks the debate polish of Jordan. But her positions are solid and well-informed, and her calm demeanor is a welcome change from the incumbent.
Jordan’s combative, take-no-prisoners approach in Congress and particularly in committee hearings; his unyielding, unquestioning partisan support of President Donald Trump; and his refusal to consider alternate points of view are all antithetical to what we believe we need from our representatives in Congress. We cannot support his presence there any longer.
This is not to dismiss the fire and passion with which Jordan, 56, of Urbana, has represented this area in Congress since 2007 — a district that, after the 2010 Census, was gerrymandered into a far more geographically expansive district. It begins in the farm country that surrounds the manufacturing centers of Marysville, Urbana, Bellefontaine and Marion, then goose-necks up through Crawford, Seneca and Sandusky counties before ending in a twist to the east that encompasses liberal Oberlin in Lorain County.
However, both now and in its earlier configurations, the district also has elected an unbroken string of Republican congressmen since 1937. Jordan, a fabled local wrestling champion who won four state titles at Graham High School in St. Paris, Ohio, has been rewarded with more than 60% majorities each time he stood for reelection. His office has provided, by his count, more than 40,000 constituent responses per year.
Also in this race is Libertarian Steve Perkins, 44, an educator who lives outside the district in Pataskala, a little burg about 20 miles east of Columbus,. He is a well-spoken advocate of the Libertarian philosophy, but it is Freshour who has the best chance of denying Jordan an eighth term.
Despite this being her first run for political office, Freshour offers a judicious, reasonable alternative to Jordan, promising to reinstitute comity in this seat and to work to improve access to health care and education, and to repair the federal safety net for people in need of assistance in her district and beyond.
Although she has worked in recent years as a civil litigation paralegal, Freshour is devoting herself to the campaign full-time, having prevailed in the Democrat primary against two opponents. As her inspiration, she points to her mother, who escaped an abusive marriage to raise her children as a single mom. Freshour says federal safety-net and early-education programs like Head Start were critical in both her personal success and in keeping the family together.
Freshour understands that she faces an uphill battle against an opponent who has a formidable name-recognition and money advantage in a district that gave President Trump 64% of its vote four years ago. But she says that her approach to the role government should play in people’s lives is resonating with constituents who are struggling through the current economic downturn.
If Jordan prevails again, we would hope he would take a cue from his colleague to the north. U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River, another Republican former athlete, has been notably effective in his first term as congressman for the 16th Congressional District through his calm, low-key, bipartisan approach.
Shannon M. Freshour is the voters’ best choice in the 4th Congressional District. We urge her election on the Nov. 3 ballot. Early voting begins Oct. 6.
The three candidates for Ohio’s 4th Congressional District — the incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, an Urbana Republican; litigation paralegal Shannon M. Freshour, a Marysville Democrat; and educator Steve Perkins, a Pataskala Libertarian — were interviewed by the editorial board of The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, as part of the board’s endorsement process. Listen to audio of this interview below.
About our editorials: Editorials express the view of the editorial board of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer — the senior leadership and editorial-writing staff. As is traditional, editorials are unsigned and intended to be seen as the voice of the news organization.
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League of Women Voters vote411.org voters’ guide.
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