Senator Sherrod Brown defeats Treasurer Josh Mandel in Ohio Senate race



Rex Santus

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sherrod Brown was re-elected United States senator of Ohio Tuesday, defeating Republican challenger Josh Mandel in a race chock-full of aggressive advertisements, name-calling and deception.

Brown, a 59-year-old Democrat, enters a second term in the United States Senate with his victory. His political career spans more than 38 years — longer than his opponent, 35, has been alive — previously serving as the Ohio Secretary of State and a representative in the United States House, among other positions.

Shortly after 10 p.m., Brown took the stage at the Hilton hotel in downtown Columbus to address supporters and volunteers — but he could hardly speak.

“The middle class won — again,” he said, his sentences hoarse and almost unintelligible to the crowd. “The middle class is not just the economic middle in this country. Most of us think of ourselves as the middle class. It’s the values we share. It’s the principles we believe in … the opportunities we create for our children, the hard work we do every day.”

Brown’s wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz, stepped in for her husband, joking that she, for once, was reading another’s writing.

“They didn’t know we had tens of thousands of volunteers; they didn’t know we had more than 100,000 contributors,” Schultz said, referring to her husband’s opponents. “And they didn’t know that Ohioans could not be bought.”

The Senate race in Ohio was widely characterized as one perpetuated by hostility and big spending. With almost $35 million funneled into campaigning, the Ohio contest tallied as the third-most expensive this senatorial election year.

The antagonistic tone of the congressional debates and advertisements made the campaign a poster child for political underhandedness.

Mandel gave his concession speech in the same city as the re-elected senator only blocks away at the Renaissance hotel.

“We put forth everything we could,” Mandel said. “I can’t think of anything else we could have done differently. At the end of these, nobody dies. We can be thankful we live in a country with that freedom.”

During the campaign, the senator labeled his opponent — a 35-year-old war veteran — as a fraud while Mandel used Brown’s long career to equate him with a corrupt Washington culture.

Mandel bluntly expressed his feelings about Brown’s credibility during an October debate: “Senator, you are a liar.”

PolitiFact, a nonpartisan organization that grades politicians on truthfulness, has criticized Mandel as exhibiting an “outright estrangement” from the truth while it rated Sherrod Brown’s claims at least half-true 74 percent of the time.

Mandel has earned six “Pants on Fire” ratings, about one-fourth of his total reviewed statements on the website. The state treasurer’s accusation that Sherrod Brown “cast the deciding vote on the government takeover of health care” was crowned “lie of the year” by PolitiFact National.

In the next six years, Brown has promised to work to preserve the divisive Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which he singled out in his victory speech as a success of the Obama administration. His opponent is strongly opposed to the health-care reform.

Both candidates have repeatedly emphasized a need for more jobs in Ohio, albeit by different means. Mandel was opposed to the government’s $62 million auto-industry bailout — a major selling point of Brown’s campaign. Tuesday night, Brown reiterated that the bailout has helped decrease Ohio’s unemployment rate by almost 4 percent.

And that emphasis on the workforce was what pulsated through Sen. Brown’s victory speech in Columbus.

“This race was never about me or my opponent,” Brown said in between gulps of water. “It was about the veteran in Columbus, the waitress in Waverly, the steelworker in Yorkville, the auto parts worker in Toledo, the small businessman in Marietta and the farmer in Waldo. It was about their families and neighbors.”

Contact Rex Santus [email protected].