U.S. Senate race hot after debates

Will Schertz

Credit: John Proppe

One of the closest and most intense of U.S. Senate races in the country this year will come to a head Tuesday when Ohio voters decide whether the Republican incumbent Mike DeWine or Democratic congressman Sherrod Brown will go to Washington.

The two candidates have been hurling potshots and accusations at one another for months, with neither of them gaining any substantial ground. Within the past several weeks though, poll results have begun to lean more heavily in Brown’s favor.

Two independent polls released this month found Brown with leads of 7 and 12 percentage points among likely voters.

With less than a week left in the race for senate, the Republican National Committee pulled ad support for DeWine, but DeWine’s spokesman Brian Seitchik said it shouldn’t affect their campaign, according to a recent article in The Plain Dealer.

“We have a 31/2-to-1 cash advantage,” Seitchik said. “We’re definitely going to be able to communicate our message to the voters of Ohio.”

Ben LaBolt, press secretary for Brown said they will continue to push Brown’s campaign until the elections.

“We’re not taking anything for granted,” LaBolt said. “Sherrod Brown is going to spend every waking hour in the state trying to earn voters.”

The two candidates have had four debates, and all four have turned into verbal slugfests.

Brown’s main accusations against DeWine have been centered around his siding with President George Bush on many issues such as the war in Iraq, outsourcing and tax cuts for upper class individuals.

DeWine, on the other hand, has brought up scandal allegations, taking shots at Brown for failing to pay his taxes for two years. He has also noted that during Brown’s term as Ohio Secretary of State, some members of his staff faced allegations of marijuana use.

On a political level, DeWine has stressed that Brown missed 278 votes in the House of Representatives, and has only passed four bills in the last 14 years.

One of Brown’s biggest focuses in this race has been economic issues, citing job loss as a major problem in the area.

Brown has been consistent in going against sending manufacturing jobs overseas, voting against legislation such as the Central America Free Trade Agreement. LaBolt said that Brown has high hopes of creating jobs in Ohio based on research in alternative energy.

“Sherrod Brown has laid out clear plans for Ohio,” LaBolt said. “We want to make Ohio the silicon valley of alternative energy.”

DeWine has also been trying to help build Ohio’s economy through the creation of several technology research and development programs within the state.

According to DeWine’s Web site, DeWine feels that creating free trade with other countries expands the market for American products and helps create new jobs.

Roak Zeller, President of the Portage-Trumbull branch of the Young Republicans, said the tax cuts DeWine has voted for have helped Ohio’s economy.

“When they cut taxes at the federal level, it kick-started the economy here,” he said. “In general, Sherrod Brown opposes tax cuts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat like Sherrod Brown or a Republican like Mike DeWine. If you raise taxes, you’re going to hurt the economy.”

LaBolt said Brown does have plans to give targeted tax cuts for middle class families, including a $10,000 tax deduction or $3,000 tax credit specifically to help students pay for increasing college costs.

The war in Iraq has also been a big issue in this race, as Brown has criticized DeWine’s siding with President Bush on war related issues, and said the U.S. needs to develop a redeployment plan. DeWine said the government is already working on doing so.

Both candidates have tried to make themselves appear as the most bipartisan candidate during the race, though in terms of voting records, DeWine has strayed from the Republicans in more instances than Brown has from the Democrats.

Contact public affairs reporter Will Schertz at [email protected].