WASHINGTON (CNN) - A freshman Democrat in the Senate who could face a challenging re-election next year is building up his campaign war chest.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio raised $1.3 million in the first three months of this year, according to Brown campaign officials, who add that the senator has $2.5 million cash on hand.
Brown doesn't have an official Republican challenger yet, but Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel has taken the first formal steps towards a candidacy, allowing him to raise money.
Two of the top non-partisan political handicappers, the Cook Political Report and the Rothenberg Political Report, both consider the contest competitive but rank the race right now as "Lean Democrat."
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted last month indicated that 43 percent of Ohio voters approved of the job Brown's doing as senator, with 27 percent disapproving and three in ten unsure.
By a 45-30 percent margin, they said he deserves re-election and by a 45-29 percent margin, they said they would vote for him over an unnamed Republican challenger.
Then-Rep. Brown defeated Republican Sen. Mike DeWine by 12 points in 2006. Barack Obama carried Ohio in the 2008 presidential election, and Democrats also captured three GOP held House seats. But Republicans won big in the Buckeye state last November, recapturing the governorship and five House seats.
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