Sherrod Brown wins reelection in Ohio

Sherrod Brown wins reelection in Ohio
© Greg Nash

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Trojan Horse of protectionism Advocates call on top Democrats for 0B in housing investments Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees 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 TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims 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 WarrenThe Trojan Horse of protectionism Federal Reserve officials' stock trading sparks ethics review Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants MORE (D-Mass.) and Cory BookerCory BookerDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries Fighting poverty, the Biden way Top Senate Democrats urge Biden to take immediate action on home confinement program 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. RenacciGovernors' races see flood of pro-Trump candidates Former House Republican to challenge DeWine for Ohio gubernatorial nomination The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Republicans seek to sink Jan. 6 commission 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 McConnellTrump seeking challenger to McConnell as Senate GOP leader: report Budget chairman: Debt ceiling fight 'a ridiculous position to be in' Buckle up for more Trump, courtesy of the Democratic Party 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 ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation 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.