Stephanie Tubbs Jones came on my radar in 1990 when, as a relatively young and little-known Cuyahoga County Judge, she mounted a progressive challenge to a conservative Republican justice on the Ohio Supreme Court.
It was an uphill race, and a thankless one at a time when the Ohio Democratic Party was stumbling into a period of deep decline.
But Jones kept the contest close, and she made an impression.
As an editor on an Ohio newspaper during that campaign, I got to know this remarkable woman as a rare political player: someone who was smart and connected but also fearless.
I did not always see eye-to-eye with Tubbs Jones, who has died unexpectedly at age 58 from a brain hemorrhage. We disagreed at times on issues, and on endorsements that she made. But we usually agreed, especially when she cast a series of brave -- and lonely -- anti-war votes around the time that George Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq.
Stephanie Tubbs Jones frequently displayed the sort of political courage that put her at odds not just with her president and his party but, at times, even with her own party.
That courage was most evident when, after the disputed 2004 presidential vote in her home state, Tubbs Jones led the House floor fight against certification of President Bush's re-election.