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Senate candidates meet for the first time Monday
Brown vs. Mandel is a national headliner
This story is part of a special series.

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In The Region:

Candidates for U.S. Senate in Ohio debate Monday afternoon in Cleveland and later in the week in Columbus. For Ohio Public Radio, Tom Borgerding reports that, unlike races for statewide office, candidates for Senate often include national and international issues in their pitch for votes.

Brown, Mandel and questions of China

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As Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel hone their campaigns, both have turned to international trade and trade with China in particular to gain an edge with voters. 

But, Denison University political scientist Paul Djupe says candidates take risks when raising trade issues.

“It really cross-cuts, I mean you’ll hear free-trade democrats, you’ll hear free trade republicans, and you’ll hear protectionist 
Democrats and protectionist Republicans, so the politics don’t add up very easily here,” Says Djupe.

Figures from the Ohio Department of Development illustrate the cross cut. Last year, Ohio exported $2.7 billion worth of materials to China. But, imports from China to Ohio topped $11 billion. 

Brown purposefully links China trade to Ohio’s loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs between 2001 and 2011.

“We do chemicals in Ohio, we do foundries, we do steel,” says Brown.

Brown makes his point while addressing workers at a southside Columbus foundry. He touts his legislation to sanction Beijing for using currency controls to help China compete with Ohio factory and assembly workers.

“And when you see a country cheat on its currency, it basically means when you sell into that country you have a 20 percent disadvantage. When they sell into our country and compete with us, they have a 20 percent, basically, bonus.” Brown explains.

Republican Mandel dismisses Brown’s effort to sanction China.  “I think the current legislation is misguided, meaningless, and has no teeth whatsoever,” says Mandel.

Mandel says diplomatic pressure toward China would be more effective in the bi-lateral tug of war for manufacturing jobs.

“Unfortunately the trade deficit with Sherrod Brown in Washington has gotten worse, and worse, and worse. And so I believe he has no credibility and no footing whatsoever to introduce legislation,” Mandel says.

Mandel and Brown will get further chance to address China trade, jobs, and the economy during a scheduled debate Monday at the Cleveland City Club.

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