Election 2018 State Brown and Renacci face off in first Ohio Senate debate in Cleveland By Ben Peters Posted on October 15, 2018 9 min read 0 1 167 Sen. Sherrod Brown is eclipsing Rep. Jim Renacci in the polling. (AP Photo/Phil Long, Pool) Cordray and DeWine met in Cleveland to debate over a variety of topics, which ranged from Brett Kavanaugh to the student debt CLEVELAND, Ohio—Incumbent U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) faced off with challenger U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) in a debate on Sunday, Oct. 14 at the Playhouse Square Idea Center. The debate, which was the first of three planned events, had journalists and citizens asking the candidates questions about Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, health care, the opioid crisis, education, and college debt. Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh’s hearing and addressing the domestic violence accusations against Brown: Brown expressed his opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation before the sexual misconduct allegations surfaced because he believed that Kavanaugh would tilt the Supreme Court to favor corporate interests. He added that he felt the investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh was rushed. Renacci expressed disdain for how the Democrats handled the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings — calling it a “low point” for the Senate Democrats, Renacci said, and that it set a new “standard of conduct” by accepting unsubstantiated claims made by both Justice Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who brought allegations against Kavanaugh. He recriminated Brown with allegations of domestic violence against Brown’s ex-wife. “My opponent, Sherrod Brown, has volumes of records of substantiated claims of spousal abuse and the people of Ohio need to see that … that situation is a standard of conduct that Sherrod Brown has violated and he should not be sitting on the U.S. Senate,” Renacci said. Brown said his ex-wife asked for Renacci to stop attacking their family with the domestic violence allegations. “She called these charges and your attacks despicable,” Brown said. “She’s supporting me, and (Renacci) should be ashamed.” Unlike his opponent, Brown left immediately after the debate ended, opting not to do any interviews with the press. Instead, Preston Maddock, a spokesperson for the Brown campaign, was sent to speak on his behalf. He declined to answer if Renacci’s claims of domestic violence against Brown are legitimate. “The senator has answered that question many times over,” Maddock said. “So has his former wife. I mean, you can keep asking it, but you’re going to get the same answer.” Health care and the opioid crisis: Renacci supports providing health care to Ohioans, including coverage of pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents plan until age 26. “Our health insurance (costs) since the Affordable Care Act has gone up 132% in this state. It’s unacceptable,” Renacci said. Brown championed his own bipartisan efforts with Gov. John Kasich to craft the Affordable Care Act and to expand Medicaid. Two-hundred thousand Ohioans are receiving opioid treatment because of these actions, Brown said. He attacked Renacci for not supporting Obamacare. “Congressman Renacci has voted more than 20 times to repeal The Affordable Care Act,” Brown said. “That vote also took away the consumer protection for pre-existing conditions … there are 5 million Ohioans, including, I would assume, more than half the people in this room with a pre-existing condition.” Renacci blamed the onset of the opioid crisis on Brown, politicians in Washington D.C., and policies that cause kids to believe that completing high school is the only way to find success in life. “The problem is, Sherrod Brown loves Washington so much, and Chuck Schumer, that he continues to vote with those policies,” Renacci said. Brown again promoted his bipartisan efforts in dealing with the opioid crisis. He referenced his role in the STOP Act, which was a collaborative effort with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) designed to keep fentanyl from crossing the border into the country. “Here’s the thing, when you think about dealing with opioid addiction—first, do no harm,” Brown said. Education and college debt: Ohio is the number one state for student debt because of the cultural attitude that children must go to college to find success in life, Renacci said. “I do think we need to look at the entire system,” Renacci said. “This is a system that has been built for years by career politicians like Sherrod Brown, who continue to just say ‘we gotta have student loans.’” Brown said that Ohioans are having to put off marriage and raising children, as well as buying new homes or starting a business because of student debt. He suggested lowering the interest rates on student loans to combat this issue. “This state … has continued to underinvest in our great state institutions … and we underinvest in helping students who want to go a different route — to learn a trade, to be a welder, to be the diesel mechanic,” Brown said. Also discussed: The senatorial candidates answered questions about manufacturing, housing costs, wages, climate change, immigration, guns, the lack of civility in the U.S., and assisting those who suffer from disabilities. Cole Behrens contributed to this report.