Brown has edged ahead in the polls.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, fighting to keep his job, reached back through two decades Friday to accuse Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown of running a "scandal-ridden office" in his days as secretary of state.
DeWine also called Brown an absent lawmaker when the candidates met in their fourth and final debate -- a feisty exchange that drew loud applause and boos.
Brown, a seven-term congressman, said DeWine and the Bush administration didn't recognize failures with the war in Iraq and ran up budget deficits. He accused the Republicans of not protecting Ohio residents from the loss of about 200,000 manufacturing jobs and increased college tuition.
"Our so-called leaders -- our governor and our senior senator -- have stood by, passively, almost indifferently," Brown said.
The race -- one of the nation's most closely watched as Democrats aim to take control of Congress -- had been tight, but Brown has recently edged ahead of the two-term incumbent.
The debate at the City Club came a day after the Republican National Committee said it won't run any television ads on behalf of DeWine in the campaign's final week.
In opening remarks, DeWine said Brown has passed few bills during his time in Congress. And in 1983, while Ohio secretary of state, Brown's office was investigated over allegations some staffers were dealing drugs, DeWine said.
"Congressman Brown in his eight years as secretary of state had a scandal-ridden office," DeWine said.
Brown, in his rebuttal, did not address the drug claims directly. He has said previously that, while in that office from 1983 to 1991, he initiated an undercover investigation into alleged drug activities involving employees in his office. No charges were filed.
Brown also said he has worked with Republicans and Democrats on various legislation.
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