Setting aside personal feelings and "political immaturity" in support of the Democratic Party, attorney Paul Hackett publicly came out in support of his former rival, U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Lorain), who is running for the U.S. Senate.
At a last minute press conference in Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park on July 10, more than 100 people sweated the heat and humidity to witness the event. Hackett had briefly run for the seat now held by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville). After withdrawing from the primary campaign, Hackett blasted Brown, saying he'd broken a pledge to stay out of the race.
Mayor Mark Mallory kicked off the festivities by asking all Democratic candidates and elected officials in the crowd to raise their hands, underscoring the apparent united front of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.
"All this tension and on-going chatter about my short-lived primary race with this good man right here, Sherrod Brown, had kinda gone on too far," Hackett said.
Brown is 'that voice'
Saying that he wanted to do some good for Brown, Ohio and the United States, Hackett offered "an unconditional and sincere apology for the trials and tribulations that really got blown out of proportion after the race."
"I'm here to tell everybody who has supported me that I'm supporting this guy, Sherrod Brown," Hackett said.
Hackett said he wants his children to see by his example that it's important to accept responsibility and make amends after making mistakes. In a later interview, he said the reason for the endorsement goes deeper than that.
"It's not something that (Brown) said to me recently," Hackett said. "It's not something somebody else said to me on his behalf. He has consistently voted in support of the things that I believe in and against the things I don't believe in. The reality is Sherrod has been a huge advocate of those issues that I believe in. That's not news to me."
Saying the 2006 election is bigger than any single person or issue, Hackett told the crowd he'd like to see his supporters back Brown.
"It's about making sure that here in the United States we have quality representatives, quality senators, like Sherrod Brown, who stand up for middle class America, working Americans, veterans," Hackett said. "Sherrod Brown's always been that voice. Maybe it took me three or four months too long to come to that realization, but that's where I'm at now.
"For those of us who believe in the Democratic principles of not only our party but the democratic principles that form the foundation of our great nation, we have to get it together and do more than simply talk about delivering, but actually produce and deliver the greatness of our party, things like peace, prosperity and the freedoms that define America. I'm confident Sherrod Brown can do that. Please join me in supporting Sherrod Brown. Let's make the difference. It's about the future of America."
After thanking Hackett for being a "totally class act," Brown continued to beat the campaign drum.
"This pay-to-play culture that we've seen in Columbus and in Washington have (sic) got to go," Brown said. "We've seen the drug industry write the Medicare law. We've seen the insurance industry and the HMOs write health-care legislation. We've seen the chemical companies write environmental law in this country. We've seen the oil and gas industry dictate energy policy. We've seen Wall Street write Social Security legislation. All of us have had enough of the way our state has gone.
"In addition to how you're all going to work ... to elect Democrats, I want to ask you to do one other thing. I want each of you to find five people — they may be recovering Hamilton County Republicans, they may be someone that's not registered to vote, they may be somebody who's just undecided. Talk to those five people. Recruit them, adopt them ... and ask them to vote up and down this ticket."
Apologies all around
The crowd of supporters wearing Brown stickers and waving signs applauded and cheered throughout the 20-minute press conference, as if on cue. Brown later said he wasn't working from notes and regretted not telling all those people that he'd made an apology of his own.
"I wish I'd said to the whole group ... that I apologized to Paul for my awkward way of getting in the race based on some family issues I had not shared publicly and I shared with him," Brown explained.
With what Hackett characterized as the "public rift" put to rest, the self-described "Hackett children's college fund" lawyer told CityBeat about a possible return to the political arena in 2008.
Soon after Brown and Hackett met in person July 8, Hackett hosted a fundraiser for Ted Strickland, Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Former Sen. John Edwards, Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2004, was in attendance.
"When I met John Edwards, I'm not ashamed to say, at least in political terms, I fell in love with the guy," Hackett said.
Unable to resist what he calls the "unusual desire" to have his picture taken with someone he doesn't really know, the two men were positioned in Hackett's living room, waiting for the photo to be taken, when Hackett made a "tongue in cheek" suggestion that he'd be willing to turn into reality.
"I whispered in his ear, 'So what do you think: Edwards and Hackett in 2008?' And he about gagged. That'd be really exciting. I could get back into politics for that, as painful a process as that would be. That's truly a once in a lifetime opportunity."
While he said his endorsement of Brown didn't have a hidden agenda, it's clear Hackett is still thinking like a politician. ©