from the Ohio Historical Society
George Victor Voinovich served as Ohio’s governor from 1991 to 1998.
Voinovich was born on July 15, 1936, in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1958, he graduated from Ohio University with a degree in political science and, in 1961, from The Ohio State University with a law degree. Voinovich then embarked upon a career in public service.
From 1963 to 1967, Voinovich served as one of Ohio’s assistant attorneys general. In 1966, he won election to the Ohio House of Representatives as a member of the Republican Party. Voinovich served in the Ohio House from 1967 to 1971, when he became the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, auditor. After six years in this position, Voinovich won election as Ohio’s lieutenant governor. He served in this capacity less than one year (1979), having won election as mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. Voinovich remained as Cleveland’s mayor from 1979 to 1986. As mayor, he helped return Cleveland, which had defaulted on its bills in 1977, to sound financial footing and also helped improve the financial plight of the city’s public schools, which had faced bankruptcy just a few years earlier.
In 1988, Voinovich unsuccessfully ran for the United States Senate against incumbent Howard Metzenbaum. Undaunted by this loss, Voinovich won election to the Ohio governor’s office in 1990. Voinovich’s time in office marked a resurgence of the Republican Party in Ohio. The Republican Party gained firm control over the Ohio legislature, and in 1994, Voinovich received seventy-two percent of the vote in his reelection bid. As governor, Voinovich consistently cut taxes. He also increased state funding for Project Head Start dramatically. In addition to these accomplishments, Voinovich oversaw welfare reform in the state and, by the end of his time in office, the unemployment rate in Ohio was at an all-time low.
In 1998, Voinovich won election to the United States Senate. He easily won reelection in 2004. In the Senate, Voinovich occasionally has drawn the ire of fellow Republicans by crossing party lines and voting his conscience. In 2002, he opposed President George Bush’s tax plan, and in 2005, he objected to John Bolton’s nomination as United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He continues to champion programs like Head Start and had has played a major role in combating racism.