In 2004 the Northwestern grad left daily duties at his parents' Mansfield, Ohio, manufacturing firm to run for a statehouse seat. He won it two years later. Now 29, the Democratic majority whip has been touted as a future governor.
Who is your political hero/inspiration?
"U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. He's from Mansfield, Ohio, and thirty or so years ago, he held the same state house seat as me. He was 23 years old when he got elected. I used to say, 'I might be to old to run for state senate, because I was 25.' I'd also cite Gov. Ted Strickland. I've gotten to know him the last few years, and he's become a political mentor to me. Somebody in that position, it's easy for him to lose focus of where they came from and where their roots are. I see where the governor goes out of his way to make people feel comfortable, to address people's concerns. It's something rare in politics."
What's your go-to political blog?
"I don't read a whole lot of political blogs. I do read politicalwire.com, ohiodailyblog.com. Other than that, I read the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Mansfield News Journal. I read the clips I get from my staff selections. I read the Economist as well as TIME magazine."
If you weren't working in politics, what would you be doing?
"If I weren't in politics, I'd most likely be in the private sector, at my family's manufacturing company or some other type of manufacturing company."
What's the most overlooked issue facing America these days?
"The biggest issues right now are the economy and jobs, and I don't think they're issues that are overlooked. When you start talking about education and health care, in my mind, all of that goes back to the economy. When you have Ohioans and Americans not going back to work, that means they're not paying taxes."
Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?
"I see myself in politics, in some elected capacity. We have term limits in Ohio, so I can only serve in my current office until 2014 There are so many unknowns, so it's difficult to be specific about an office. To be completely honest, I have my dream job right now."