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Jean Spencer Ashbrook

Representative Jean Ashbrook

Served in the U.S. House for 7 months from 1982 - 1983

Born: 1934 in Cincinnati, Ohio

Education: B.S., The Ohio State University, 1956

Prior Experience: Worked on husband's campaigns

Age When First Elected to the U.S. House: 47

Length of Service: 7 months

How She Entered the U.S. House: Ran in special election in 1982 after the death of her husband

How She Exited the U.S. House: Did not to run again after her district was eliminated in redistricting

Party: Republican


Representative Ashbrook with Scooby DooWhile the press called her a "politician by accident," prior to her own successful House race, Jean Spencer Ashbrook was actively involved in her husband's congressional campaigns. John Ashbrook served in the U.S. House for 11 terms and stepped down to run for U.S. Senate in 1982. He died unexpectedly in April while campaigning. Jean explained, "The Governor called and asked if I would put my name on the ballot" to complete the remainder of her husband's House term. "Immediately I said, 'Yes.'" (Roberts). "We were a team … I campaigned for eight years in the 17th District … I [thought] I could do a good job" ("Ashbrook").

In the special election held in June, with just under 25,000 total votes cast, Ashbrook won 74% of the vote, defeating Democrat Jack Koelbl, a businessman and lawyer ("Widow of Congressman").

During her short time in the House, she established herself as a staunch conservative. She co-sponsored The Enterprise Zone Tax Act of 1982, which would have provided tax incentives to businesses that located in low-income neighborhoods.

Ohio's 17th District

When she was elected in June of 1982, Jean Ashbrook would be the last person to represent Ohio's 17th district (shown here), which was a relatively large rural district that covered 7 counties in central Ohio. Ohio lost 2 House seats in the 1982 round of redistricting, and the 17th district was eliminated (map from The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts, 1789 - 1983).

Election History

Year Democratic Opponent Ashbrook's % of 2-Party Vote
1982 (special) Jack Koelbl 74%

District Map

Ohio's 17th District Map

Ohio's 17th District in 1982

Sources and Resources:

"Ashbrook, Jean Spencer." Women in Congress, U. S. House of Representatives Office of the Clerk,

"Representative Jean Ashbrook,",{%22search%22:[%22jean+ashbrook%22]}&r=1

Roberts, Steven. 1982. "New Members Reflect Diversity of the House," New York Times, September 6th,

"Widow of Congressman To Complete His Term." 1982. New York Times, June 30th,