Politics

Sherrod Brown: ‘Desperate’ Sexual Assault Claims Won’t Work

Challenger Jim Renacci says, without evidence, that he’s heard accusations from multiple women

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, labeled his midterm election opponent, Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, “desperate” for levying allegations of sexual assault against him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Sherrod Brown summarily dismissed unsubstantiated allegations of sexual assault levied against him by his opponent in the upcoming midterms, Rep. Jim Renacci, labeling the Ohio Republican’s claims “desperate.”

“Congressman Renacci’s failed and desperate campaign gets worse every day,” Brown’s campaign said in a statement, multiple outlets reported Wednesday.

Brown’s lead over Renacci in the polls has never dropped below 13 points since the two won their respective primaries in May.

President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 8 points in the quadrennial swing state in 2016. 

Still, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race for Ohio's Senate seat Likely Democratic as Democrat Brown seeks a third term.

On Wednesday, Renacci told the Cincinnati Enquirer’s editorial board that “multiple women” contacted him saying they were assaulted by Brown between the end of his first marriage in 1987 and the beginning of his current one in 2004.

“I’ve had multiple women contact me and say, ‘I was assaulted by Sherrod Brown,’” Renacci told the editorial board, which said the GOP Senate candidate did not provide any proof or specifics supporting his claim.

“It’s more than just one instance,” Renacci said. “That makes it even worse.”

It’s not the first time Renacci has tried to weaponize alleged mistreatment of women by Brown, a tactic conservatives have panned in other political arenas — most recently, the Senate confirmation process for new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Renacci has repeatedly criticized Brown for a domestic abuse allegation and restraining order filed by Brown’s first wife against him during heated divorce proceedings in 1986.

Brown’s ex-wife, Larke Recchie, has taken Renacci to task for trying “to score cheap political points,” as Recchie and Brown have for years been on good terms.

“I was proud to support Sherrod in 2006 and 2012, just as I am this time around,” Recchie said in a statement in September. “Anyone who suggests he is not an honorable man is just wrong. He’s a great father to our daughters Emily and Liz and he’s a wonderful grandfather to our grandchildren.”

Renacci did not back down from his campaign’s decision to use the issue against Brown, which he has repeated at the candidates’ debates.

“The documentation shows something totally different,” Renacci said of Recchie’s statement. “She has multiple affidavits of fear, abuse, fear for her children. God bless her for forgiving him.”

The 2018 midterm elections are 19 days away, on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Watch: Trump Heads West to Campaign — And a Lot of Senators Do Too

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.