- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

MASON, Ohio (AP) - Two Ohio candidates seeking to be the Democratic party’s nominee for U.S. Senate in 2016 took their political messages to the Warren County Democratic Party on Sunday, but one had the advantage of name recognition.

Former Gov. Ted Strickland and Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld spoke before about 300 people at a party fundraising dinner in Mason.

Strickland, 73, who also was a congressman, was well known among the crowd and people asked to pose with him for photographs, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. It said Sittenfeld had to work the room and introduce himself to guests.

“I acknowledge there is some boldness in my campaign,” said the councilman. “But Democrats are always at our best when we are bold.”

Some top party members have called for Sittenfeld to drop out and support Strickland in the race against Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

Both men identified student loans as a key issue in their campaigns, The Enquirer reported. “The government should not be making money off student loans,” Strickland said as the audience applauded. Sittenfeld said reducing interest rates on school loans would be his first priority.

Warren County Democratic chairwoman Bethe Goldenfield told The Associated Press the gathering generated “a lot of positive energy.” The county party invited 25 young Democrats to the event, most of them high school seniors or college freshmen, and they “seemed to be smitten” by the political talk and mingling, she said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown also was invited to the dinner. Goldenfield said he sent a video because he was in Washington, D.C., to vote on the Patriot Act and other issues.

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