Sherrod Brown wins reelection in Ohio

Sherrod Brown wins reelection in Ohio
© Greg Nash

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBudowsky: Sherrod Brown should run in 2020 Sherrod Brown: If Stacey Abrams doesn't win, Republicans 'stole it' Nearly six in ten want someone other than Trump elected president in 2020: poll MORE, a leading Democratic voice on financial regulation and workers rights, was elected to a third term in Ohio, a crucial presidential battleground state that President TrumpDonald John TrumpMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Avenatti denies domestic violence allegations: 'I have never struck a woman' Trump names handbag designer as ambassador to South Africa MORE carried in 2016.

Brown, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, is considered a potential dark-horse candidate for president in 2020, but he has been less active than colleagues such as Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNearly six in ten want someone other than Trump elected president in 2020: poll Schumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Merkley seeking to change Oregon law so he can run for president and Senate in 2020: report MORE (D-Mass.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerO'Rourke receives invite to visit Iowa from Democratic Party in Des Moines Bill to protect Mueller blocked in Senate McConnell: Mueller probe should be allowed to finish MORE (D-N.J.) when it comes to jockeying for a possible White House bid.

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The 65-year-old senator defeated Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciTrump: Candidates that did not embrace me can 'say goodbye' The Hill's Morning Report — Split decision: Dems take House, GOP retains Senate majority Renacci swipes at Kasich after defeat for 'dividing the country' against Trump MORE (R-Ohio), whose campaign was plagued by controversy over his work as a lobbyist before coming to Congress.

Although a lawyer for Renacci, 59, filed paperwork ending his registration as a lobbyist in August 2009, the process wasn’t completed until this year, prompting charges from Brown’s campaign that Renacci had been a lobbyist while in Congress.

Renacci was not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRand Paul blocking Trump counterterrorism nominee On The Money: Trump, Senate leaders to huddle on border wall funding | Fed bank regulator walks tightrope on Dodd-Frank | Koch-backed groups blast incentives for corporations after Amazon deal Congress is going to make marijuana moves MORE’s (R-Ky.) first choice to run against Brown. The GOP leader reached out earlier this year to J.D. Vance, author of the New York Times best-seller “Hillbilly Elegy,” about running for the Ohio Senate seat.

But the White House encouraged Renacci to run, prompting him to drop a potential gubernatorial campaign.

McConnell tried to stir up some more donor support in the Senate race when he told The Hill that he saw a survey “in Ohio indicating that race is very competitive.”

Even so, Renacci’s campaign failed to gel and the race received substantially less attention than battles in nearby Indiana and Wisconsin, even though Trump carried the Buckeye State by almost 10 points in 2016 and Brown is one of the most liberal members of the Senate.

Brown’s strength in Ohio and his appeal to Rust Belt voters could make him a tempting vice presidential pick in 2020. He has been an outspoken critic of steel dumping in the United States and has pushed hard to protect pension plans for retired coal miners.

He also touted his work on the farm bill and curbing toxic algae blooms in the Great Lakes.

Brown was on 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMeet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Mattis defends border deployment during visit to troops | Bolton aide exits WH after clash with first lady | House blocks Yemen war resolution | Report warns of erosion in US military superiority Exit polls show more women breaking with Republicans MORE’s shortlist of potential running mates and went through the vetting process.

In a speech Tuesday night, Brown said his victory showed "progressives can win - and win decisively - in the heartland." local outlet The Vindicator reported

"That is the message coming out of Ohio in 2018, and that is the blueprint for our nation in 2020," he said.

Even while Brown’s reelection campaign didn’t garner much attention this year, sources close to him say he didn’t take anything for granted.

The race turned ugly when Renacci leveled unsubstantiated allegations that Brown had made unwanted advances toward women, which Brown’s campaign protested as “false and libelous” statements.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Brown told Renacci at a debate in Columbus last month.

An Emerson poll published last week showed Brown with a 6-point lead over Renacci.

Updated at 8:57 p.m.

Emily Birnbaum contributed.