Mandel targets Sen. Brown

On the side

Republican refrain: One isn’t the loneliness number that the National Republican Congressional Committee will ever do.

The NRCC often sends template “fill-in-the-blank” emails to reporters criticizing several U.S. House Democrats for the same thing. Often, it sends the same critical email only changing the names of the Democrats.

The NRCC recently sent emails about Democratic support for the health-care bill. The subject line was name-that-Democrat “becomes increasingly lonely defending ObamaCare.” The NRCC sent emails for numerous Democrats that left me wondering if they know what lonely means.

GOP insider: Adam Fleisher, an 18-year-old high school senior whose parents are Liberty High School graduates, won election to a Republican central committee seat in Delaware County. Fleiser, who considered running for mayor of his hometown of Galena, lives there with his parents, David and Margie. His grandparents, Tom and Avis Meikle, and Dr. Robert Fleischer, reside in Liberty.

Josh Mandel, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, has a lot going for him.

He’s got a great personal story. A former Marine who served two tours of active duty in Iraq, Mandel moved into politics and, like Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, jumped from serving on city council in a suburban community to a short stint in the Ohio Legislature to winning statewide office.

The ambitious Mandel started raising money for his Senate campaign about five minutes after his four-year term as state treasurer began in January 2011. And he’s really, really good at raising money.

He’s also the darling of conservatives though it’s somewhat of a mystery as to why. He has such a small political track record. He never sponsored a bill approved by the Ohio House while serving there. But Republicans definitely like what he has to say as he travels across the country speaking to supporters who shower him with money.

As for being treasurer, Mandel touts the office’s success even though it’s obvious he’s spent a lot more time focusing on running for Senate than running the treasurer’s office.

Mandel is running against U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a likeable, intelligent and long-time elected Democrat, whose liberal voting record didn’t stop him from soundly defeating then-U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican who is now attorney general, in the 2006 Democratic tsunami.

During his five-plus years in the Senate, Brown hasn’t changed his politics. But he also remains passionately concerned about Ohio, voting for legislation he says helps the state’s manufacturing base, such as the auto bailout and against free-trade agreements.

While this election won’t be as bad for Democrats as 2010 — or as bad for Republicans as the 2006 and 2008 elections — this will be a competitive race even though Mandel has stumbled.

In nearly three decades as an officeholder, Brown has taken positions and votes on several issues that Mandel could target.

In a Wednesday email to supporters, Mandel continues to claim Brown “is one of the main D.C. politicians responsible for Ohio jobs moving overseas to places like China.” As I mentioned, Brown is a strong opponent to free trade and has been critical of the nation’s trade policies with China.

Claims like that led Henry J. Gomez, The Plain Dealer’s politics writer, to write: “whoppers are fast becoming a calling card of [Mandel’s] candidacy.”

Mandel is critical of Brown’s support for health-care reform, but a conversation I had with the Republican on March 1 shows he can struggle when he has to dig deeper.

During that call, which Mandel made to me, I asked about the federal health-care plan.

“I support a full repeal,” he said.

I then asked about the provision that allows those 26 years old and younger to remain on their parents’ health-care plan.

“There are parts that make sense,” and that is one of them, he responded.

I asked Mandel about insurance companies not being able to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

“I support that as well,” he responded. “But, by and large, it should be repealed.” As “stand-alone [bills], I’d support” the provisions on pre-existing conditions and 26-year-old and younger on parents’ plans.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.