Ohio's Brown, Mandel meet in heated debate for U.S. Senate seat

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown and the Republican challenger, Ohio???s Treasurer of State Josh Mandel, sparred in their second debate Thursday evening in Columbus. After a brief handshake at the beginning, the gentlemen proceeded to school one another on their own records and why the other person would be destructive for Ohio, demonstrating that they will not be meeting for a peace-making beer any time soon.

During the one hour debate, Mandel spoke directly into the camera to the audience, while Brown directed his eyes to the panel and the studio audience. Mandel pointed to the failures in Washington, D.C., connecting Brown???s having been in Congress since 1993 as being part of the problem. Brown, often considered to be among the most liberal members of the Senate, supported Obamacare and is said to have cast the deciding vote. Ohioans, however, are roundly against the mandate in Obamacare, as voters voiced their opposition in a nearly two-to-one vote in support of an amendment to the state Constitution freeing Ohioans from the mandate to purchase health insurance.

Mandel is endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and spoke of his pro-business, pro-growth agenda. Brown is perceived as being anti-business and pro-union, but he does have strong support in the traditional Democratic areas in Ohio, and he also picked up an endorsement from the Ohio Society of CPAs.

Attacks on Mandel

While Mandel???s message of bringing ???change to Washington??? is a positive one, Brown has attacked Mandel on petty issues.

One of the attacks against Mandel is that he is not attending the meetings of the Board of Deposit, a board he is to chair as the Treasurer of State. This attack from Brown is misleading, however, because board meetings are frequently attended by a politically appointed member of an elected official???s staff when the elected official himself cannot attend. The staff member is instructed to vote in a manner that reflects the beliefs of the elected official. Such representation on boards can be found at every level of government — from city council to the White House.

When asked about Mandel???s attendance at these meetings, the campaign???s press secretary, Nicole Sizemore, provided a written statement explaining, ???Treasurer Mandel’s office has a 100% attendance record at ┬áthe Board of Deposit meetings.”

???These are five minute meetings where they approve the decisions already made by the Treasurer.??? Furthermore, Sizemore highlights the results in Mandel???s first two years as Treasurer, citing, ???The results speak for themselves: the Treasurer’s office has earned the highest possible ratings on their investment funds, an upgrade in the Ohio Enterprise bond fund, and Mandel has voluntarily cut his budget to save taxpayer dollars. Senator Brown likes to invent issues like this to distract from his record of high unemployment, high gas prices, massive debt, bailouts, and a government takeover of healthcare.”

Brown has also attempted to undermine Mandel???s integrity by reminding us that Mandel pledged to serve a full term as Ohio???s Treasurer. Supporting Mandel???s decision to run for U.S. Senate, Sizemore share: ???400,000 Ohioans are unemployed and Senator Brown has no plan except more debt and taxes. We can’t afford another six years of Senator Brown.”

The race

Senator Sherrod Brown is the only remaining Democrat elected to the executive or legislative statewide offices in Ohio. Following the takeover of the Statehouse by Republicans in November 2010, Ohio???s unemployment is down and the economy is turning around. However, Mandel???s fight to unseat Brown has been a long, tenuous battle, and the final fate of the campaign is still uncertain with only 18 days to go until Election Day. Mandel has closed Brown???s large, double-digit lead in the last few months. Polls vary, but the race is considered to be a dead heat, with Brown maintaining a small advantage. Mandel???s poll numbers seem to reflect Mitt Romney???s numbers – tied with, or a couple of points behind the Democrat.

The Republican policies from the last two years have made Ohio an attractive state in which to do business again, including the elimination of the estate tax and other pro-business, pro-growth policies passed by the Republican-controlled Statehouse. It is difficult to see a split in which President Obama carries Ohio and Josh Mandel is elected to the Senate, given Brown???s close ties to the policies of the Obama administration.

Ohio is an important state — not only for the White House, but also for the Senate. Mandel wants to carry the reforms we have seen in Ohio to the United States Senate. With a record of gaining Democrat support on election day, if anyone call pull out a victory, Josh Mandel can.