CLEVELAND (TDB) -- Connie Schultz's recollection of a conversation with an editor at The Plain Dealer clearly demonstrates there are shoals under the surface when politics and journalism are mixed in the workplace with partisan ideology. It turns out that Connie, a Pulitzer-winning feature section columnist, was advised by her boss -- during a private workday meeting -- to urge that her husband, Sherrod Brown, enter the 2006 U.S. Senate race in Ohio. She quotes the editor saying of Brown, "this country needs him to run."
Brown is a Democrat. The Senate seat was held by two-term Republican Mike DeWine, who lost last November. Some could say the workplace conversation was a meeting that helped alter the state and nation's political course, a course that has tacked away from the GOP.
Connie recounts her talk with Stuart Warner, the editor who handled her columns, in her new book "...and His Lovely Wife," and describes how she was reluctant about having Brown run statewide. In effect, she portrayed herself as the main roadblock to her husband's candidacy.
She said she told Warner, a former Beacon Journal columnist who wrote "Warner's Corner" for years, that Sherrod was thinking about running. The editor then motioned to move the conversation to a more private setting, an empty meeting room. She quotes Warner:
"Sherrod should run. This country needs him to run, and he needs you by his side to do it. You'll be a tremendous asset. Look at what you believe in. Look who you've been fighting for your entire career. That's who he'll be running for, and they will vote for him and he can win. You can always come back to work if you want. Or you can move on to something bigger. You have nothing but options, but this is the right time, maybe the only time, for him to run."
Warner had endorsed a Brown candidacy, and Connie wrote in the book, "I was stunned, but I was also listening."
Doug Clifton, the paper's editor at the time, was worried about Connie's relationship with a statewide candidate. In December 2005 he wrote a column reassuring readers her marriage to Brown "will have no influence -- for or against -- our coverage of his campaign."
Of course, Clifton probably didn't know that the campaign had been partially fanned into life by a conversation in his own newsroom.