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Jim Brady: An Unlikely Conservative

GOP Delegate Jim Brady
Dan Bobkoff for NPR

Delegate: Jim Brady, 39

Hometown: Shaker Heights, Ohio

Occupation: Shaker Heights City councilman and VP of sales and marketing for The Cohort Group

Why We're Watching: He's a conservative who defies the prevailing politics of his region.

Jim Brady knows he's an unlikely conservative.

His mother was just 15 when he was born. He grew up in the shadows of steel mills, and his mom married a blue-collar GM worker when Brady was 6 years old.

But Brady says he has a contrarian streak. He is a rare African-American Republican in Ohio's heavily Democratic Cuyahoga County, though he says there are more in the area than people think.

He sometimes gets flack for his views. While he leans right, he jokes that he put "Republicrat" on his Facebook profile because his views do not always fall in step with the party line. He says the civil rights era made it possible for him to have his conservative views today.

Brady paid his way through college by joining the military. He served as a lieutenant in the Army and fought in the Gulf War; he named a son Colin after Colin Powell, who was chairman of the joint chiefs of staff during that conflict. Today, he works at an international risk management company that provides security in places like Iraq. Not surprisingly, Brady favors a strong military.

Long apolitical, Brady waded into local politics earlier this year, serving as a councilman in Shaker Heights. He implores local leaders to do more to attract businesses to northeast Ohio, a region suffering from the decline of manufacturing and the mortgage crisis.

This will be Brady's first convention. He was initially a Rudy Giuliani delegate — drawn to the former New York mayor's centrist views. He now supports John McCain. Going to the convention is an honor, he says, but he admits he's a little cynical about national politics and prefers to put most of his efforts into local issues.

Brady's adopted father, the GM worker, says he still doesn't know how he raised a Republican.

Dan Bobkoff reports for WCPN in Cleveland.

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