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Politically Speaking is WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson's column that examines the world of politics and how it shapes the world around us.

Analysis: Reproductive rights, settled by Ohioans last fall, is a key issue in Senate race

signs that both support and oppose issue 1, which would enshrine reproductive rights into Ohio's constitution
Daniel Konik
Ohio Statehouse News Bureau

The waves created in the U.S. Senate last weekend when Republicans blocked a "Right to Contraception Act" could well wash ashore in Ohio as a mini-tsunami in the November election.

Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown, a co-sponsor of the bill that would prevent any state from restricting or interfering with contraceptives, faces a tough re-election campaign against Republican Bernie Moreno, a Trump-backed car dealership owner from Cleveland.

It is a race that could determine whether Democrats hold on to their two-vote majority in the U.S. Senate or not.

And reproductive rights issues — from abortion to fertility treatments to contraception — could very well be at the center of the contest.

If that happens — and there is every reason to believe it will — it would help Brown's chances of re-election and possibly sink the candidacy of Moreno, who says he would have voted against the Right to Contraception Act and is a self-described "pro-life" candidate who has said he wants a federal abortion ban.

Remember, this is a state where voters went to the polls last fall and voted overwhelmingly — by 57% — for a constitutional amendment that not only guarantees the right to an abortion but other reproductive rights as well.

And that amendment specifically guarantees the right to contraceptives.

RELATED: See how each Ohio county voted on Issue 1

The Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate is on the opposite side of an issue supported by nearly 6 out of every 10 Ohio voters.

Brown, of course, has been making hay over that difference between himself and Moreno.

"While my opponent wants to overturn the will of Ohioans who voted to protect abortion rights and contraception access last year, I stand with Ohioans and will continue to ensure Ohio women can access and make their own health care decisions," Brown said.

Moreno, who opposed the Ohio reproductive rights amendment on last November's ballot, has said that if he had been in the Senate, he would have voted against the contraceptive rights bill brought to the floor last week by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

But Reagan McCarthy, Moreno's campaign spokesperson, said that doesn't mean he is opposed to contraceptives.

"Bernie supports comprehensive access to birth control for women but not the far-left gimmicks in this bill," McCarthy said, who also told me Moreno was unavailable for an interview.

The bill was indeed a bit of a gimmick, by Democrats' own admission.

Last Wednesday, when Schumer brought the Right to Contraception Act to a vote, nobody believed it was going to pass — certainly not Schumer or the sponsor, Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

It had no chance of getting through the Republican-controlled House either.

The procedural vote on the bill was 51 — nine votes shy of the 60 needed to for the bill to be introduced for passage.

ANALYSIS: Anti-abortion rights groups tried to change the subject on Issue 1. They failed

But Senate Democrats wanted to get Republicans on the record as opposing it, so it could be used as a campaign cudgel against the GOP Senate candidates in states like Ohio. And against Donald Trump as well.

The Republican argument was that there is no existential threat to contraceptive rights, and that the bill is just a political tool for Democrats.

Markey said as much in a pre-vote press conference last Wednesday.

"A 'no' vote will prove what the GOP really stands for — gutting our protections," Markey said. "The American people will remember who protected our reproductive rights today."

And if, in Ohio, they don't remember, you can rest assured that the Brown campaign and its allies are no doubt already making campaign ads to remind them.

Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.