In one of the nastier election contests in recent memory, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is defending his seat against Republican challenger Josh Mandel, the current state treasurer.
Outside groups have spent more than $30 million in the state in efforts to defeat Brown, whose liberal record and surprise victory over then-incumbent Mike DeWine in 2006 made him a prime national target. Brown allies, primarily labor unions, have also spent about $4 million against Mandel.
Brown, 59, has made the federal auto industry bailout and his support of the middle-class key campaign issues, highlighting Mandel's opposition to the auto rescue that affected about 800,000 Ohio jobs. Mandel, 35, has emphasized his commitments to job creation and fiscal responsibility and the need for change in Washington.
Job experience was a central theme in the race. Brown accused Mandel of ignoring duties at the state treasury, including missing almost all the meetings of a powerful deposit board he chairs, while Mandel said Brown was too entrenched and represented "everything that's wrong with Washington."
Brown was 22 when he began his political career as the youngest state representative in Ohio history in 1974. He went on to serve two terms as secretary of state and was elected to Congress in 1992.
His adherence to President Barack Obama's big-ticket policies — the federal stimulus, auto rescue and health care overhaul among them — have been used against him in an onslaught of ads by outside groups. Those include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and political strategist Karl Rove's American Crossroads and its affiliated Crossroads GPS.
Mandel was elected to statewide office in 2010 after stints as a northeast Ohio city councilman and state legislator. He served two tours with the Marines in Iraq, a factor in garnering the endorsement of 2008 presidential nominee John McCain.