Brown says challenger to Senate seat using ‘dark-money’ funding

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) met with The Blade editorial board on Thursday in Toledo.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) met with The Blade editorial board on Thursday in Toledo.

Sherrod Brown is again up in the polls over his Republican challenger, and while he is unsure the “surge for Democrats” will hold, the senator is adamant that his commercials and advertisements are fact-checked and accurate.

Mr. Brown, who is in a race with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, told The Blade’s editorial board on Thursday that his Republican opponent is doing as well as he is in polling only because of nearly $20 million poured into his campaign.

The senator has repeatedly blasted Mr. Mandel for so called “dark-money” funding. That cash has funded multiple ads bashing Mr. Brown and praising Mr. Mandel. Meanwhile, Mr. Brown has not let up on his attacks — again pointing out that Mr. Mandel did not attend meetings as state treasurer and was personally raising campaign money in places like the Caribbean.

“The way you run a campaign tells you how you will run the office,” Mr. Brown told The Blade.

The latest Real Clear Politics average of polls gives Mr. Brown a 7.5 percent lead over Mr. Mandel.

“The attacks [from Mr. Mandel] have been mostly that I voted for Obamacare,” Mr. Brown said. “Well, I did. They never tell the truth about Obamacare.”

“Fact-checkers have repeatedly found Senator Brown’s claims to be false,” said Nicole Sizemore, press secretary for Mr. Mandel's campaign. “Today is just the latest example of fact-checkers saying Senator Brown is lying about Treasurer Mandel’s record. Senator Brown will say or do anything to hide from his record of votes for taxpayer-funded bailouts, higher taxes, a failed stimulus, and a government takeover of health care. Four-hundred thousand unemployed Ohioans are still waiting to know when and how they'll get Sherrod Brown's help to find a job and steady income.”

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, the expansion of Medicaid, a pillar of the health-care reform law, is optional for states.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he won’t make a decision until he can assess how the state would pay for it. The Republican governor insisted he isn’t playing for time until the election, since Mitt Romney and Republican leaders of Congress have vowed to repeal the President’s health-care law.

Governor Kasich said last month he was “pretty well leaning against” another major feature of the health-care law: creation of a state exchange that would enable consumers and employers to buy health insurance from private providers. If Ohio doesn’t establish its own exchange, the federal government will impose a plan.

Mr. Brown said he “can’t imagine” governors would not agree to the exchange. Small and medium-sized businesses would soon realize the value of the exchange, he said.

The widening China trade gap has become an issue in the Brown-Mandel race, as it has in the presidential election.

The senator said he agrees with Toledo Mayor Mike Bell’s strategy to attract Chinese investors to the city, but wishes President Obama was tougher with China trade policies.

“We are already in a trade war being played by one side ... China plays us for a patsy,” the senator said.

Still, the two countries are basically married, he said.

“With 35 percent of China’s exports [going to the United States], they just can’t walk away from us,” Mr. Brown said.

President Obama has increased pressure on Chinese manufacturers in response to demands from industry, unions, and fellow Democrats in Congress, such as Mr. Brown.

“I want this relationship to be strong, but I don’t want it to be one-sided,” Mr. Brown said.

The incumbent senator said that if he is re-elected, job creation will be his top focus next year.

“I wake up every day trying to figure out how to create more jobs,” he said. “When I say I wake up everyday thinking about job creation, a lot of it is, how can we do manufacturing better?”

On the environment, Mr. Brown said he is perplexed why Great Lakes restoration has not been a bigger issue in the presidential campaigns.

Ohio and Michigan are swing states. Western Lake Erie, which straddles those two states, is home to the most productive spawning habitat for the Great Lakes region’s $7 billion fishery that supports hundreds of jobs.

It also is the Great Lakes region’s most vulnerable area for pollution because of its warmth, shallowness, and combination of rural, industrial, and agricultural effects. Detroit to Cleveland is the Great Lakes’ most populated shoreline, which creates issues for coastal development.

Of particular concern to Mr. Brown is the pace of a study undertaken by the U.S. Corps of Engineers to recommend permanent solutions for keeping voracious Asian carp from colonizing the lakes and destroying commercial and sport fisheries.

The study, once completed, will be used by Congress to determine if $9.5 billion should be spent to isolate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins, which many Great Lakes scientists see as the best course of action. Mr. Brown was part of a contingent that passed legislation requiring the Corps to move faster on its recommendations.

Lake Michigan and the Des Plaines River, a Mississippi tributary, are connected by a canal system, and the headwaters of the Wabash River, which also flows into the Mississippi, are separated from the Maumee’s headwaters by low-lying land that the carp could cross during a flood.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:, or 419-724-6171.