The 2012 Ohio Senate race features one-term incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown facing off against Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, who has also served in the state House of Representatives.
Polling in the Ohio Senate race has been close enough to generously call the race competitive, but GOP hopes at a Senate pick-up have been substantially dimmed by Mandel’s many controversies and inadequate debate performances.
Mandel has been outspoken in his opposition to the auto industry bailout, which is widely thought to be the singular reason the Obama campaign has enjoyed an electoral advantage in Ohio. He’s also been one of the fact check industry’s greatest playthings, earning several “Pants On Fire” ratings from PolitiFact, which has criticized him for having a “casual relationship with the truth” and mixing “audacity with absurdity."
For all the gifts Mandel has, from his compelling personal narrative as an Iraq war veteran to a well-oiled fundraising machine, whoppers are fast becoming a calling card of his candidacy.
Others back down or soften their rhetoric once their statements have been publicly scrutinized, but Mandel doubles down. Consider his response in an interview last week when asked again to identify a single Ohio job that went to China because of a decisive vote by Brown.
"If that's the level of specificity you're looking for, you're the reporters -- you go do the grunt work," said Mandel, who lives in Beachwood. "Any reporter who doesn't believe Sherrod Brown is responsible for jobs going to China is simply out of touch."
PolitiFact Ohio already had done the "grunt work" and found that the examples cited by Mandel's campaign failed to back up his claim, hence the Pants on Fire rating. Right or wrong, Mandel vowed to repeat the assertion "again and again" and said he sees no downside.
Nonetheless, Mandel has been the beneficiary of a lot of outside money, most notably from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC, which has spent lavishly in its efforts to defeat Brown in spite of Mandel’s complaints about the huge role that out-of-state money has played in the race.
Brown remains the heavy favorite to win. As of this writing, the HuffPost Pollster average had the incumbent running ahead of Mandel by a 50.0 percent to 44.9 percent margin.
The Center for Responsive Politics has a list of the key contributors to each campaign.