The Senate battle between U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a progressive Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, a Trump-supporting Republican, has been one of the most contentious — though not nearly the most competitive — of this year's crop.
Renacci is an Akron-area businessman who has held his seat in Congress since 2011. He ditched a bid in the Ohio GOP gubernatorial primary to switch to the Senate race and has since received the endorsement of President Donald Trump.
However, that endorsement seemingly hasn’t moved the needle much for Renacci, whose campaign has so far failed to find its legs.
Brown has been a popular presence in Ohio politics for decades. He served as Ohio Secretary of State from 1983 to 1991, then made the jump to the U.S. House, where he served from 1993 to 2007. He then moved up to the Senate and is now looking for a third term.
Brown has repeatedly attacked Renacci over the Republican tax reform bill, pointing out it has lowered taxes for corporations and high-income earners while raising the national deficit by $1 trillion over the next decade. He’s also taken statements from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about resultant cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security and lobbed them at Renacci.
Renacci has countered that the tax cuts have sped up the economy, and that eventually, the policies will produce enough growth to make up for the loss of revenues.
"They blew this big hole in the federal budget deficit, and his leaders want to close the budget deficit by cutting Medicare and Social Security," Brown said of Renacci during an Oct. 20 debate between the two. "I think that's bad economics, and it's just wrong.”
The race has gotten scathingly personal. Renacci’s campaign has released ads highlighting a 1986 restraining order Brown’s then-wife took out as they were in the process of divorcing. Renacci says Brown physically abused her, but Brown’s ex-wife has since filmed a video for Brown blasting Renacci and demanding he stop using the couple’s divorce in his campaign.
Renacci has since alleged that other women have shared stories about abuse by Brown but has not released substantive details expounding upon those charges. Some political watchers have called that an act of desperation on Renacci’s part as he trails by double digits in polls just weeks before the election — unless he comes up with more proof.