George Voinovich

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search
George Voinovich is a former Senator for Ohio

George Victor Voinovich, a Republican, is a former Senator for the state of Ohio, having served 1999 to 2011. He decided not to run for re-election. Republican Rob Portman won the Senate seat to replace Voinovich.(map)[1]

Record and controversies

General information about important bills and votes for can be found in Congresspedia's articles on legislation. You can add information you find on how George Voinovich voted by clicking the "[edit]" link to the right and typing it in. Remember to cite your sources!

Iraq War

Voinovich voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.

Following remarks made by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) on June 25, 2007 calling for an immediate change of course and troop reduction in Iraq, Sen. Voinovich responded favorably, stating that if the president refused to listen to differing views on Iraq, then the Senate should look at legislation limiting the number of troops. He also submitted a letter to President Bush detailing a new policy in Iraq that would reduce troop levels and engage in more diplomatic efforts.[2]

For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal



Born July 15, 1936 in Cleveland, Ohio, to a Serbian father and a Slovenian mother, Voinovich earned a bachelor of arts degree in government from Ohio University in 1958 and a law degree from Ohio State University in 1961. Voinovich is a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He married his wife, Janet, in 1962.

Voinovich began his political career in 1963 as an assistant attorney general of Ohio. He then served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives from 1967 to 1971. From 1971 to 1976, he served as county auditor of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. In 1975, he made an unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination for mayor of Cleveland against incumbent Mayor Ralph J. Perk. From 1977 to 1978, he served as a member of the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners. In 1978, Voinovich was elected lieutenant governor on the ticket with James A. Rhodes (the first Ohio lieutenant governor not to be elected separately from the governor).

Cleveland Mayor and Ohio Governor

By 1979, elections in Cleveland were nonpartisan, and with then-Mayor Dennis J. Kucinich (D) about to enter a tough re-election campaign, Voinovich began to consider running for mayor again. Twice, Voinovich suggested his intent to stand for office but then changed his mind. Finally, on July 26, he made "one of the most difficult decisions in [his] life." He resigned from the office of lieutenant governor and entered the primary election.

Aside from Kucinich, Voinovich's other opponents included state Sen. Charles Butts and city council majority leader Basil Russo. As the election drew closer, The Plain Dealer announced its endorsement of Voinovich. Voter turnout in the primary was greater than that of 1977 race between Perk, Kucinich, and Edward F. Feighan (when Voinovich had endorsed Kucinich). In the 1979 nonpartisan primary election, Voinovich led the pack with 47,000 votes to 36,000 for Kucinich. Russo (who obtained 21,000) and Butts (with 19,000) did not qualify for the general election. The biggest surprise was Voinovich's showing in predominately African American wards, where he was expected to finish last. In fact, he trailed only Butts, with Kucinich last.

Most expected a fierce campaign between Voinovich and Kucinich. Early in the race, the mayor jumped on a quote that Voinovich made to The New York Times on August 26: "I like fat cats. I want as many in Cleveland as I can get. Cleveland needs their tax dollars and the jobs they bring." Kucinich later responded: "George Voinovich has proven conclusively...–he is the candidate of the fat cats...and he would love to become the mayor of the fat cats so he can repay their generosity." Voinovich argued that running the city required more than just one person and preached for a cooperative spirit with the motto, "Together we can do it."

Then, a few days after the primary, Voinovich's 9-year-old daughter was struck by a van and killed. This event brought the campaign to a halt. Still, Kucinich challenged Voinovich to a series of debates in the Cleveland neighborhoods, but Voinovich declined these invitations saying they would be unproductive. He also said that Voinovich, while serving as auditor, had turned his back on the city's financial issues.

"For more than five years, when the previous Republican administration (of Ralph Perk) was digging a deeper and deeper financial hole, George Voinovich sat as county auditor reviewing the city's tax budgets [and] allowing gross misspending to go on and on without once raising a single question. Either he didn't know what was going on, which raises questions about his capacity to handle the finances of Cleveland, or he ignored what was going on and helped the Republicans to cover up the financial mess," Kucinich said.

Voinovich countered, saying that the Kucinich administration had only worsened the city's financial situation.

"In looking at those two years [of the Kucinich administration], I'll admit that some of the problems Dennis had to face were inherited and not of his own making," he said. "But as the saying goes: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Dennis has become part of every problem facing this city. The harsh realities are that Dennis has not spent the time nor has he developed any kind of comprehensive plan to solve our city's problems. Furthermore, he has not attracted the kind of mature, qualified, experienced team necessary to solve our city's difficult problems."

On November 6, Voinovich won with 94,541 votes while Kucinch only procured 73,755, winning in only eight of Cleveland's then 33 wards.

After his victory in 1979, Voinovich won re-election in 1981 against Ohio state Rep. Patrick Sweeney (107,472 to 32,940) and in 1985 against councilman Gary Kucinich, Dennis's brother (82,840 to 32,185).

In 1988, Voinovich announced his retirement from his position as mayor and ran to unseat then U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum while still in the mayor's office. During his campaign, Voinovich charged that Metzenbaum was soft on child pornographers. He was roundly criticized for this attack and lost to Metzenbaum in a landslide.

In 1990, Voinovich was nominated by the Republicans to replace Gov. Richard F. Celeste, a Democrat who was barred from running for a third consecutive term. In that race, Voinovich defeated Anthony J. Celebrezze Jr., a victory that made Voinovich the first Serbian American ever to hold office as governor. In 1994, Voinovich was re-elected to the governorship, defeating Democrat Robert L. Burch Jr. in a massive landslide. He won 72% of the vote.

Voinovich's tenure as governor saw Ohio's unemployment rate fall to a 25-year low. The state picked itself up and was able to create more than 500,000 new jobs. Under Voinovich, Ohio was ranked #1 in the nation by Site Selection Magazine for new and expanding business facilities.

Congressional career

In 1996, Voinovich hoped to be chosen by then U.S. Sen. Robert J. Dole to be the Republican nominee for U.S. vice president. However, Dole chose Jack Kemp instead. In 1998, barred from running for a third consecutive term as governor, Voinovich set his eyes on the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by long-time incumbent Democrat John Glenn. Voinovich won that race, defeating Democrat Mary O. Boyle.

Particularly in his first years in the Senate, Voinovich was opposed to lowering tax rates. He frequently joined Democrats on tax issues and in 2000 was the only Republican in Congress to vote against a bill providing for relief from the "marriage penalty." In 2002, Voinovich became the target of the right wing when he was one of the moderate Republicans in the Senate trying to put the brakes on President Bush's plan to cut taxes while increasing expenditures. A television campaign labeled Voinovich as disloyal. While he did vote for the tax bills of 2001 and 2003, and has switched his positions to vote in favor of eliminating the estate tax, Voinovich is still more hesistant to support cutting taxes than most in his party.

In November 2004, in his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate, Voinovich easily defeated the Democratic nominee, Ohio state senator Eric Fingerhut, whose candidacy was overshadowed by persistent speculation that TV talk show host Jerry Springer might enter the race.

Positions and views

Voinovich gained national attention at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's confirmation hearing of John R. Bolton, nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, when he commented "I don't feel comfortable voting today on Mr. John Bolton." As a result, the committee recessed without a vote and thus stalled the nomination [1]. Again, Voinovich faced charges of disloyalty from conservative activists, and has been called a RINO on multiple occasions. Voinovich later allowed the committee to send the nomination to the full senate, but forced the committee to do so without a recommendation. Democrats refused to invoke cloture and end debate on the Bolton nomination - the first time, Voinovich voted to end debate, the second time, he joined Democrats in voting to extend debate and urged Bush to choose another nominee.

Voinovich has since amended his views and determined Dr. John Bolton is doing a "good job" as UN Ambassador praising him by saying "I spend a lot of time with John on the phone. I think he is really working very constructively to move forward."[2]

Voinovich has a reputation of being overcome by emotion in public situations and has choked up on several occasions during important speeches, the latest example being during his May 25, 2005, address in the Senate pleading with fellow Republicans to reject Bolton's nomination. Voinovich lost his composure as he explained that he ran for re-election in order to try to secure a stable future for his children and grand-children. Voinovich also got choked up when the Cleveland Browns announced their intent to move to Baltimore. In 1999, Voinovich said that President Clinton's signing of the "Ed-Flex" bill had brought tears of joy to his eyes.

In a recent interview [3], Voinovich has expressed his intent on running for re-election as senator. He also vowed that he would help "mentor" the future mayor of Cleveland, during the 2005 Cleveland mayoral election. Voinovich aid will most likely go to the election's winner, Frank G. Jackson.

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00003583&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for George Voinovich
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Committees and affiliations


  • Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
    • Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
    • Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality
  • Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
    • Subcommittee on European Affairs
    • Subcommittee on Near East and South and Central Asian Affairs
    • Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Democracy and Human Rights
  • Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    • Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security
    • Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia
    • Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration

Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

Coalitions and caucuses

  • Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe
  • Senate Centrist Coalition
  • Co-Chairman, Senate Auto Caucus

Boards and other affiliations

  • Chairman, National Governors Association, 1997-1998
  • Executive Committee, National Governors Association, 1993-1998
  • Member, Committee on Human Resources, National Governors Association, 1991-1998
  • Vice Chairman, National Governors Association, 1996-1997
  • Chairman, Jobs for America's Graduates Program, 1995-1997
  • Co-Lead Governor for Federalism, National Governors Association, 1993-1995
  • Chairman, Council of Great Lakes Governors, 1992-1994
  • Co-Chairman, Task Force on Education, National Governors Association, 1992-1993
  • Chairman, Republican Governors Association, 1992-1993
  • Chairman, Midwestern Governors Conference, 1992
  • Vice Chairman, Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, National Governors Association, 1991-1992
  • On the Board of Governors for the Partnership for Public Service

More background data

Wikipedia also has an article on George Voinovich. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


DC Office:
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3504
Phone: 202-224-3353
TollFree: 800-205-OHIO (OH only)
TTYD Number: 202-224-6997
Fax: 202-228-1382
Web Email

District Office - Cincinnati:
36 East Seventh Street, Room 2615
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 513-684-3265
Fax: 513-684-3269

District Office - Cleveland:
1240 East Ninth Street, Room 2955
Cleveland, OH 44199
Phone: 216-522-7095
Fax: 216-522-7097

District Office - Columbus:
37 West Broad Street, Room 310
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-469-6697
Fax: 614-469-7733

District Office - Gallipolis:
417 Second Avenue
Post Ofiice Box 758
Gallipolis, OH 45631-0758
Phone: 740-441-6410

District Office - Toledo:
420 Madison Avenue, Room 1210
Toledo, OH 43604
Phone: 419-259-3895
Fax: 419-259-3899

Articles and resources


  1. George Voinovich profile, The Washington Post, accessed January 2011.
  2. "GOP Senators back Lugar’s Iraq shift," Think Progress, June 26, 2007.


  • Official Senate website
  • The Encyclopedia Of Cleveland History by Cleveland Bicentennial Commission (Cleveland, Ohio), David D. Van Tassel (Editor), and John J. Grabowski (Editor) ISBN 0253330564
  • Cleveland: A Concise History, 1796-1996 by Carol Poh Miller and Robert Anthony Wheeler ISBN 0253211476
  • The Crisis of Growth Politics: Cleveland, Kucinich, and the Challenge of Urban Populism by Todd Swanstrom ISBN 0877223661
  • Seven Making History: A Mayoral Retrospective by The League of Women Voters of Cleveland
  • 25 Years of Cleveland Mayors: Who Really Governs? by Roldo Bartimole
  • See how you compare to George Voinovich

Related SourceWatch articles


  • Edward Schumaker, "Mayor Kucinich Himself Is Issue In Upcoming Cleveland Primary," The New York Times, August 26, 1979.
  • Walt Bogdanich, "Mayor Accuses Rival On Funding," The Cleveland Press, September 21, 1979.
  • Brent Larkin, "City Club Debate: Candidates Go At It," The Cleveland Press, November 3, 1979.
  • Brent Larkin, "Mayor-Elect Voinovich Moves To End Default," The Cleveland Press, November 7, 1979.
  • Fred McGunagle, "The Winner: Voinovich Is Subdued Victor," The Cleveland Press, November 7, 1979.
  • Fred McGunagle, "Our Century: Muny Survives, But Kucinich Is Out of Power," The Plain Dealer, August 7, 1999.
  • Fred McGunagle, "Our Century: Cleveland Climbs Out Of Default," The Plain Dealer, August 14, 1999.
  • Fred McGunagle, "Our Century: Beleaguered Cleveland Prunes Its Image – 'Plum' Campaign To Rescue City From the Nation's Punch Lines," The Plain Dealer, August 22, 1999.
  • Fred McGunagle, "Our Century: A Welcome Breather At City Hall While Voinovich Keeps Peace and Mends Fences, Kucinich Begins His Comeback, And Forbes Consolidates Power On City Council," The Plain Dealer, September 5, 1999.
  • John Aravosis, "Senator Voinovich (R-OH) is the latest confused Republican," AMERICAblog, January 25, 2007. re McCain doctrine

Local blogs and discussion sites

Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: U.S. Senate
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Senate Centrist Coalition,Senate Auto Caucus
Committees: Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works/Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works/Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works/Subcommittee on Transportation Safety Infrastructure Security and Water Quality, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations Democracy and Human Rights, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on European Affairs, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations/Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs/Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management Government Information Federal Services and International Security, Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs/Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia, Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs/Subcommittee on State Local and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration,
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
November 3, 1998
First Took Current Office:
January 6, 1999
Next Election:
November 2, 2010
Term Ends:
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
Ohio Governor, Ohio Lieutenant Governor, Cuyahoga County Commissioner, Ohio House of Representatives, Cuyahoga County Auditor,
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
1. 317 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510-3504
Phone: 202-224-3353 / Fax: 202-228-1382
2. 36 East Seventh Street, Room 2615, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 513-684-3265 / Fax: 513-684-3269
3. 1240 East Ninth Street, Room 2955, Cleveland, OH 44199
Phone: 216-522-7095 / Fax: 216-522-7097
4. 37 West Broad Street, Room 310, Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-469-6697 / Fax: 614-469-7733
5. 417 Second Avenue,Post Ofiice Box 758, Gallipolis, OH 45631-0758
Phone: 740-441-6410 / Fax:
6. 420 Madison Avenue, Room 1210, Toledo, OH 43604
Phone: 419-259-3895 / Fax: 419-259-3899

Campaign Contact:

Webform Email: / Email:

Campaign Offices:

Phone: / Fax:

Zip Code Affiliations:

Date of Birth: July 15, 1936