By Dave Andrusko
Whether it’s sports or politics, there’s nothing quite like a dark horse, that someone who “comes out of nowhere” to make a contest out of what seemed like a runaway. Enter pro-life Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel.
National Right to Life PAC–by far the most effective and powerful pro-life PAC– has endorsed Josh in his suddenly highly competitive race against pro-abortion incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown. And as everyone who is watching the fight for control of the United States Senate knows, what was a 13-point lead for Brown in February has been more than cut in half by Mandel. Last week’s Quinnipiac University poll found Mandel down by only six points—46% to 40%.
If you are a Brown supporter, the explanation for the race that grows closer by the day (Roll Call says the race has moved “from a second-tier context to a single-digit competition”) has nothing to do with his own record or his own shaky campaign. If you are a Mandel follower, you see an indefatigable worker with charm to spare who has the wind at his back, including the enthusiastic support of pro-lifers.
Mandel, a Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Iraq, is known as an extremely hard-working candidate. Mandel, 34, was elected to Ohio’s state legislature in 2006 after knocking on 19,679 doors and wearing out three pairs of shoes.
The race potentially is hugely important. Republicans need to make a net gain of four seats to take control of the Senate, and more and more, Ohio looks like a realistic possibility.
Stu Rothenberg is a highly respected political observer who is known as a non-partisan. He wrote a piece this week for Roll Call (“Just How Competitive Is the Ohio Senate Race?”) in which he handicapped the Brown/Mandel race.
Rothenberg was clearly highly impressed. Everything from coming in for a chat
“without a retinue of handlers to protect him. He was poised and smart. He was never rattled (even though I tried). He answered questions willingly, unlike some candidates who are overly defensive or act as if reporters are enemy combatants (admittedly some are).
“Mandel talked about his accomplishments, his positions on issues and his campaign’s message and strategy. And he even apologized for not being able to answer some overly insider questions about his campaign’s media buys. In fact, if he had known the answers to those questions, I would have been concerned that he was spending too much time on campaign strategy and not enough being the candidate.”
Rothenberg wrote “Brown and Mandel appear to be perfectly evenly matched. They are a tossup if there ever was one” except for one thing. He looks too young!
“He could pass for 16 years old,” Rothenberg said of Mandel. “I have a hard time believing that voters will see the GOP challenger as mature enough and prepared enough to be a Senator now.”
As a couple of people around the NRLC office shrewdly pointed out, people in Ohio trusted a then-even younger Mandel to manage their money when they elected him state Treasurer. To take nothing away from Rothenberg, it is almost comically condescending to think Ohio voters would be swayed by a quality that in almost all circumstances is highly prized in a candidate.
“The first time I met Josh, I was impressed by his energy, charisma, and enthusiasm,” NRL Political Director Karen Cross told NRL News Today. “We are fortunate to have such a hard-working, impressive candidate. A man of integrity, Josh Mandel is a warrior and a winner, and he will be a warrior for the babies when he wins.”
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