John McCain is often called a "maverick". But he isn't alone, at least not among Republicans. And no, this isn't another blog about Sarah Palin. George Voinovich, who announced this week he is retiring at the end of his current term in the U.S. Senate, compares favorably to him. In the 1960's, Voinovich, who grew up in a Democratic family in Cleveland, decided to become a Republican. And while he may have stuck to Republican principles, he often reached out to Democrats during his political career. At no time was that more evident than in his years as Mayor of Cleveland. When he took office, the city was in infrastructural, political and financial chaos. On top of that, it was an "easy joke" for comedians. He helped turn things around by reaching out to the heavily Democratic City Council, often the scene of infighting (my late mother once mused that she tuned in to the radio broadcasts of the Cleveland City Council meetings "To get my laughs for the week".), as well as local banks which were alienated by the previous mayor, and got the financing necessary to put the city on more solid financial footing. Oh, yes, to paraphrase something current Ohio Governor Ted Strickland once said, he had to raise some taxes. He also worked to get new development in the city. Both the former Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field) and the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame came about on his watch. By the end of the 1980's, Cleveland was being called "the comeback city". Those accomplishments alone would be enough to hang his hat on. But Voinovich went further, being elected overwhelmingly to the office of Ohio Governor (where he had to face yet another financial crunch), and United States Senator, both by large voting margins. By the way, in both elections, as well as in his elections as Cleveland mayor, he carried the heavily-Democratic Cleveland area. Interestingly, the Democrats who now control Ohio politics this week acknowledged his efforts in both the Senate and in his previous offices, including his willingness to "reach across the aisle" to get things done. He did this although he was clearly a loyal Republican who supported President Bush on most key issues. Cleveland, the State of Ohio, and the nation should applaud his efforts.
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