Republican Josh Mandel announced today that he was dropping out from the US senate race because of his wife’s health issues. Democratic senator Sherrod Brown is trying to retain the seat he has won twice previously. He faced a strong challenge from Mandel, an intensely ambitious young (he is just 40 years of age) Republican who is currently the state treasurer and was the clear front-runner to gain the Republican nomination. In his 2010 campaign for the treasurer’s office, Mandel falsely suggested that his opponent was a Muslim and in general his campaigns have become notorious for their tenuous relationships with the truth.
It was clear that Mandel saw the treasurer’s office as a mere springboard to higher office. He ran against Brown in 2012 and lost 51-45% but was expected to mount a much stronger challenge this time around, aided and supported by the most right wing organizations. He was even endorsed by Steve Loomis, former head of the Cleveland police union, who has the most appalling views, and also was supported by the Trumpists and national extreme dark money right-wing organizations. (Loomis was a strong supporter of Trump and vociferous critic of football players who knelt for the national anthem, moves that rankled black police officers. He was later ousted as head of the union.)
Mandel even defended the pushers of the pizzagate conspiracy and those who claimed that there is a white genocide going on. Ohio is a state that is pretty right wing and there are many regions where racist, homophobic, and xenophobic sentiments are not uncommon.
Given his ambitions, it came as a bombshell when Mandel announced his decision. Cynic that I am, I was skeptical about his stated reasons and thought that maybe that some scandal was about to explode or that he had indications that the climate was unfavorable in 2018 and that he might lose badly. But no reports so far contradict the suggestion that his wife’s illness was the true reason.
It is not clear who will become the Republican nominee. But this development will put a dent in the party’s hopes of wresting a senate seat from the Democrats.