WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) – It hasn’t even been a month since the end of the 2016 election, but one politician is already starting his run for 2018.
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is the first major Republican to announce that he will be campaigning for a Senate seat in two years. His term as treasurer will end in January of 2019.
While he didn’t drop the name “Donald Trump” in his announcement video, he did use some of the president-elect’s trademark lines:
“Most people think Washington is broken but really, it’s just a rigged system,” Mandel said in the video. “With your help, we’ll go to Washington, drain the swamp and fight for the people of Ohio.”
But Trumbull County GOP Chair Randy Law says he’s not just copying Trump.
“That is Josh Mandel and those are the things we’re looking to send him to Washington to help President-elect Trump.”
If Mandel wins the GOP nomination, it would set up a rematch with Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. He’s held that Senate seat for the last ten years, and he beat Mandel head-to-head in 2012 by six percentage points.
“It’s going to be very clear that Senator Brown’s policies are just not in touch with Ohio. Ohio is a center-right state and Senator Brown, although he is a good man, is too far left,” Law said.
After Mandel’s announcement, the Ohio Democratic Party responded:
From hiring his cronies and giving them raises, to exchanging access to the official treasurer’s letterhead for $100,000 in campaign contributions, to using the treasurer’s office to talk about issues that have nothing to do with the job taxpayers pay him to do, Josh Mandel remains someone we can’t trust.
The Ohio Democratic Party also said that Mandel “has always been more interested in furthering his own political career than doing his job.”
Law says he isn’t swayed by the statement.
“I think it’s just more of the same. That doesn’t represent what Josh Mandel has done in the treasurer’s office. He’s done a very good job.”
Mark Munroe, chair of the Mahoning County Republican Party, says Mandel is the clear favorite to win the Republican nomination for Senate because he’s been innovative as treasurer.
Among some of his achievements as Ohio’s treasurer, Mandel introduced OhioCheckbook.com, a way to track government spending online.
Mandel is already getting a big endorsement from U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida. Rubio, who was defeated by Trump in the Republican presidential primary, announced that he is endorsing Mandel’s 2018 run.
Rubio cited Mandel’s conservative principles in his endorsement.
Mandel has fought against Obamacare expansion, and says he will “hold D.C. politicians’ feet to the fire.”
There’s no guarantee that 2018 will be a Brown vs. Mandel rematch. Local GOP leaders say that they expect other Republicans to challenge for the nomination, including eight-term Congressman Pat Tiberi and possibly John Kasich, who cannot run for a third term as governor.
This story is corrected to show when Mandel’s term as state treasurer ends.