WASHINGTON (AP) — Two vacant Ohio congressional seats were filled Thursday after Republican Mike Carey, a coal lobbyist from Columbus, and Democrat Shontel Brown, a Democratic Party leader from Cleveland, were sworn in as members of the House after Tuesday’s special election.
Brown will represent the Cleveland-area seat vacated by former Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge, who stepped down to join President Joe Biden’s cabinet as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Carey takes over for former Republican Rep. Steve Stivers, who resigned in April to become CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
“I take this responsibility seriously,” Brown said from the House floor shortly after she and Carey were jointly sworn in. “I ran for Congress because I believe in the resiliency of the community I love and call home.”
Carey paid homage to his roots in small-town Sabina, Ohio, and said he was “humbled to stand here today to serve in the peoples’ House.”
Later, Brown, Carey and their families took turns making small talk while posing for photographs with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi against a backdrop of American flags.
The swearing-in ceremonies leave Democrats with a 221-213 advantage over Republicans in Congress, with Brown and Carey each retaining a seat that was held by their respective parties.
Carey, 50, was backed by former President Donald Trump. He bested two-term Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo, a public health policy consultant, in the 15th Congressional District after the most competitive race there in years.
Carey told celebrants at a victory party Tuesday, “We have too many career politicians in Washington. That’s the last thing that I will ever be.”
Brown, 46, coasted to victory in the heavily Democratic 11th District that stretches from Cleveland to Akron, defeating Republican Laverne Gore, a business owner and activist. For Brown, who also chairs the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, the real contest was the Democratic primary in which she bested Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator who was a top surrogate for Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign. The race drew an intense media spotlight and millions of dollars in spending.
“I am committed to going to Washington as a unifier, and will work with President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress to lead a swift health and economic recovery from the pandemic for Ohioans,” Brown said Tuesday.
Both winners will fill the remainder of their predecessors’ terms, which run until January 2023. They must face reelection again next year under a congressional map that’s being redrawn to hold onto the seat.