Perhaps the second time’s a charm for Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel.
Before his first Senate run, Mandel looked like a rising GOP star who could not be stopped. He became a local city councilman in 2004, entered the Ohio House of Representatives in 2007 and was elected as Ohio’s 48th Treasurer in 2010. The former high school quarterback and Marine intelligence specialist was trailblazing his way through Ohio politics.
His luck appeared to run out when he attempted to unseat incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2012 – a strong year for Democrats nationally. Despite benefiting from $10 million in conservative super PAC spending and a strong prowess at fundraising on his own behalf, Mandel lost to Brown 45 percent to 51 percent.
Six years later and with more experience under his belt, 39-year-old Mandel is looking to take another shot at Ohio’s senior senator. He is already off to an impressive start as far as polling and fundraising are concerned. Mandel, while still being the only declared GOP candidate so far, is polling well ahead of potential Republican rivals. He leads Rep. Pat Tiberi 60 percent to 12 percent. Mandel also raked in almost $1.5 million in the first three months of 2017.
The primary may be easy for the Republican Treasurer, but the general election should prove to be an uphill battle.
During the same first first quarter of this year, Sen. Sherrod Brown outraised Mandel by almost $1 million. Brown’s campaign operation also carries about double the amount of cash on hand. The incumbent senator undoubtedly has name-recognition to his advantage against a challenger from a much lower statewide office.
The same blue-collar voters who handed Trump the presidency have long been a base for Brown – who is viewed as one of the strongest advocates for workers’ rights. Will these same voters be mobilized again to go to the polls for Brown in 2018, or has President Trump set a new course for The Buckeye State?
Ohio does seem to be trending red. Trump won Ohio by a fairly wide margin in 2016, carrying 80 counties (of 88) and taking more than 476,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton. Sen. Rob Portman wrecked Ted Strickland 58 percent to 37 percent on that same ballot. In 2014, Gov. John Kasich demolished challenger Ed Fitzgerald 64 percent to 33 percent. Today, Sen. Brown is only one of five members in Congress from Ohio.
These are some staggering numbers.
Two questions may answer if Brown can hold on to his senate seat: Will his deep roots in the state (40-plus years in elected office) and campaigning prowess shield him from a Mandel challenge? Will President Trump (who currently boasts low approval ratings) taint the environment for Republicans running in Ohio? The 45th president’s popularity could be a huge factor this upcoming mid-term election.
Trump cleared a path for his fellow GOP candidates in the The Buckeye State in 2016, but two years of sinking approval numbers could change the game for anyone.
Campaign Daily Rating: Likely Democrat