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Ohio's Bruising Senate Fight

A key race tightens as $18 million in ads hammer an incumbent senator
Brown (left) says “the voters will see through” the ad blitz; pro-Mandel ads are often funded by outside groups
Brown (left) says “the voters will see through” the ad blitz; pro-Mandel ads are often funded by outside groupsFrom left: Mark Duncan/AP Photo; Douglas Graham/Getty Images

For a display of the power of unlimited spending in politics, take a look at Ohio, where a barrage of television advertising is threatening to sweep away Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. His Republican challenger, first-term State Treasurer Josh Mandel, trailed by as many as 14 percentage points this past May, yet two recent polls show the candidates in a statistical tie.

The gap narrowed after $18 million was spent on TV ads supporting Mandel. Much of the money came from independent groups, including Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, which under the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision can spend without limits on campaigns. Ohio, a bellwether in the presidential election, is also a linchpin in the Republican effort to take control of the Senate.