Stephanie Tubbs Jones was elected as judge in Cleveland Municipal Court in 1981 and to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in 1984 and 1988. She lost a race for the Ohio Supreme Court in 1990. Tubbs Jones was elected Cuyahoga County prosecutor in 1992 and 1996.
She was elected to the U.S. House in 1998, defeating Republican James Hereford with 79 percent of the vote, winning the seat vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Louis Stokes. She was re-elected in 2000 with 84 percent of the vote, defeating Republican James Sykora. In 2002, she easily won re-election over Republican Patrick A. Pappano with 76 percent of the vote.
Tubbs Jones ran unopposed for her fourth term in the 2004 election. Robert Saffold of suburban Shaker Heights ran as a Republican write-in.