Lavea Brachman (OH): ‘It will take years for the country to recover from what Trump is doing’
Lavea Brachman (56), a Democrat from Columbus, OH, is an expert on urban policy who cofounded the Greater Ohio Policy Center. She grew up in an observant family with deep moderate-Republican roots in Ohio. Her family owned a paint and resin manufacturing company in Columbus, where her husband, Andrew Smith, who was also interviewed for this project, is currently CEO. She is in a “mixed marriage”—her husband is a Republican.
What issues do you care about most?
Income inequality. I’m extremely concerned about the gap between the rich and the poor. I care deeply about urban policy. Our cities are our country’s engines of growth. A lot of our policies are intentionally or unintentionally creating more problems for city growth.
Are there any make-or-break issues for you?
The priority is defeating President Donald Trump. He’s a destructive force on every level. It will take years for the country to recover from what he’s doing.
What personal traits matter to you most when picking a candidate?
It is extremely important that Democrats have a candidate that people can relate to, particularly the Reagan Democrats who used to vote reliably Democratic and are mostly blue collar. That’s why Joe Biden crosses a lot of lines. He is relatable!
What do you think about the impeachment proceedings?
I think Democrats had no choice but to take it up.
Are there disagreements in your family about politics?
My husband, Andrew, and I are generally not politically aligned. He is a Republican and I’m a Democrat. That doesn’t mean we don’t agree on some things. During the 2016 election, I did everything but go into the ballot booth with him to make sure he voted for Hillary Clinton. Different political viewpoints are a source of healthy debate—and sometimes frustration—in our family. Both our kids are on the liberal end of the spectrum. However, while we do sometimes back different candidates or have divergent views on the role of the market or of government regulation, I find that fundamentally we are in agreement on critical social and cultural issues, the general need to protect the environment, and the importance of character, integrity and ethics in government that transcend political views—and that have surfaced as of deep importance in this county.
What do you think about the Democratic field?
Joe Biden doesn’t really excite me, but I’m in that category who supports anyone who can beat Trump. But I’m afraid the lies that are being circulated about Biden are definitely going to have the intended impact. What the Trump administration is doing is extremely irresponsible. Elizabeth Warren has toned herself down and positioned herself much better than I thought. Mayor Pete is brilliant but too young. Bernie Sanders is a rabble rouser, a populist and not really interested in governing. I like Julian Castro because he’s really smart and speaks on issues I care about, like housing and economic development. But he doesn’t have a chance.
Is Israel an important issue for you?
I’m a strong defender of Israel, but I haven’t defined what a responsible position on Israel is. I don’t like Netanyahu at all. I actually think what Barack Obama was doing was supportive of Israel. I would never vote for someone who cut back aid to Israel, but I don’t think the agreement with Iran was anti-Israel. Israel is a bastion of democracy, and we need to support it for that reason. I don’t see a candidate that I couldn’t vote for because of their position on Israel. If one of four congresswomen (known as “the squad”) ran, I wouldn’t be able to vote for any of them. But they’re not on the ballot.