Ohio's senior U.S. senator, Sherrod Brown, told the Ohio delegation at its breakfast Wednesday morning that no Democratic senator in the country is facing the kind of torrent of spending on negative advertising from conservative Super PACs that he is.
"In spite of the $16 million they are spending against me, they are wasting their money,'' Brown said to the delegates. "And that $16 million does not include the electronic billboards, the direct mail and the radio ads they are running against me."
"They," to Brown, are special interest Super PACs like Crossroads GPS, founded by Bush campaign strategist Karl Rove, organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others.
And he freely admits that the spending is having an impact on the race between himself and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.
A few months ago, Brown had a fairly comfortable lead in the polls, but a poll released last month by the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research showed Brown with 48 percent support to 47 percent for Mandel, who was elected state treasurer in the 2010 GOP sweep of statewide offices. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
With the Democrats holding only a one vote majority in the Senate, every Senate contest this year is important; and few more so than the Brown-Mandel contest, which could tip the balance of power in the Senate in the favor of the Republicans.
Brown, speaking to reporters, said the money being spent to defeat him is coming from "undisclosed sources," but he believes it comes from segments of the business world that are not happy with his voting record.
"Some of it I am sure is coming from the banking industry, because I sponsored legislation to break up these banks because they were too big" and from "Chinese interests or American businesses that are out-sourcing jobs."
Brown said he will fight back with a strong grassroots campaign.
"We'll begin to put more money on TV, but our grassroots organization will be kicking up,'' Brown said. "We will fight back."
Travis Considine, a spokesman for the Mandel campaign, responded to Brown's remarks Wednesday in Charlotte.
"The more Ohio voters learn about Sherrod Brown's 38 year record, the more desperate he is to hide from his votes to bail out Wall Street, bail out Fannie and Freddie, and his decisive vote for the taxpayer-funded stimulus and the government's takeover of health care,'' Considine said.