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Sherrod Brown holds early lead in Ohio Senate race

Nov. 06, 2012 @ 09:14 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio has a lead in very early election returns.

Brown faced an expensive challenge by Republican Josh Mandel, the state treasurer and a U.S. Marine veteran.

Outside groups spent more than $30 million in the state in efforts to defeat Brown, whose liberal record and surprise victory over then-incumbent Mike DeWine in 2006 made him a prime national target. Brown allies, primarily labor unions, spent about $4 million against Mandel.

With 7 percent of votes counted Tuesday, nearly 56 percent of voters were favoring the 59-year-old Brown over the 35-year-old Mandel.

Brown made the federal auto bailout and his support of the middle-class key campaign issues, while Mandel emphasized the need for change in Washington.