Columbus Dispatch: Sherrod Brown wins a third term


Columbus Dispatch: Sherrod Brown wins a third term

Columbus DispatchUS Senate – Democrat Sherrod Brown wins a third term

Marty Schladen – November 6, 2018

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown defeated Republican Congressman Jim Renacci in Tuesday’s election, retaining his status as a blue senator in a red state.

“You showed the country that progressives can win — and win decisively — in the heartland,” he said in his victory speech. “Tonight, Ohio, you showed the country that by putting people first and by honoring the dignity of work, we can carry a state Donald Trump won by nearly 10 points.”

Brown’s re-election was one of the first races called. He wound up winning by 6.3 percentage points.

In the campaign’s closing days, Brown showed confidence in the outcome, spreading hundreds of thousands of dollars to fellow Democratic candidates, including the maximum contributions to statewide candidates.

Renacci pointed to a tea party poll after he appeared with President Donald Trump in Cleveland on Monday that showed him beating Brown by 5 points. But Renacci apparently never spent the $4 million he loaned his campaign, which was vastly outfunded by Brown’s.

Renacci watched the results in his hometown of Wadsworth. After it was called for Brown, Renacci said it was just too steep a climb.

“We got into this race eight months ago,” he told The Dispatch, noting he conducted an internal poll indicating that he had only 40 percent name recognition. “I think it didn’t go my way because people didn’t know who I was.”

Brown, meanwhile, was with his fellow Democratic candidates at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus.

“You showed that we do it without compromising on women’s rights or civil rights or LGBTQ rights. We do it without caving to Wall Street or the drug companies or the gun lobby,” he said.

A year ago, the Ohio Senate race was expected to be one of the country’s tightest as Democrats nationwide faced a Senate map that was unusually unfavorable to them.

But a lot has changed since then. Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel — a Republican who ran a tough race against Brown in 2012 — dropped out in January, and President Donald Trump asked Renacci to fill Mandel’s spot. That gave the lesser-known Renacci little time to mount a campaign against the popular 12-year incumbent Brown.

Meanwhile, rising Democratic sentiment made Senate contests in other states unexpectedly competitive. However, preliminary returns indicated that Republicans would not only hold their Senate majority; they’d add to it.

Renacci, who has owned car and motorcycle dealerships, as well as nursing homes, had tried to run on his business credentials and as an outsider. Despite the fact that he had been in Congress for eight years and was seeking at least one, six-year term in the Senate, he relentlessly called Brown a “career politician.”

An ardent supporter of organized labor, Brown has long been critical of trade deals such as NAFTA, and he bristles at the expression “Rust Belt.”

“Populists are not racists,” his speech said. “Populists are not anti-Semitic. We do not appeal to some by pushing down others. We do not lie. We do not engage in hate speech. And we do not rip babies from their families at the border.

“This is our America: We will never give up the hallowed ground of patriotism to the extremists. I repeat. We will never ever give up the hallowed ground of patriotism to the extremists — at the Statehouse and in the White House.”

Renacci had been running for governor when Trump asked him to substitute for Mandel in the Senate race. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s children made several visits to the Buckeye State on Renacci’s behalf, but funding from national sources had lagged.

Asked what was next for him, Renacci said he was going to take a few days off before thinking about that.

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