When U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said he won’t seek re-election, Cleveland area Republican Josh Mandel was the first candidate to officially launch a campaign for the GOP nomination.
It’ll be Mandel’s third try for the U.S. Senate, having lost to Democrat Sherrod Brown in 2012 and then withdrawing from the expected rematch against Brown in 2018. And it’ll mark Mandel’s fifth statewide run in 12 years.
Here are eight things to know about Mandel:
1. Politics. Mandel’s political career began at Ohio State University’s student government and continued at the Lyndhurst City Council and Ohio House. He also served as state treasurer from 2011 to 2018, where his highest profile accomplishment was creating an online system for posting and searching government spending.
2. Trump. Mandel supported Donald Trump — instead of Ohio’s own John Kasich — in the 2016 GOP presidential primary and again in the 2020 campaign. He cut a TV commercial along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2017, urging Congress to support Trump and funding for the wall. And when he announced his campaign in 2021, Mandel called Trump’s second impeachment a sham and promised to fight for Trump’s America First agenda.
3. Marines. After college, Mandel enlisted in the U.S. Marines and served eight years, including two tours in Iraq.
4. Treasurer TV ads. In the months leading up to his announcement that he would run against Democrat Sherrod Brown, taxpayers paid $1.8 million to air television ads starring Mandel and former Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer. The ads promoted a program run by the treasurer’s office that helps families with special needs children save money for their futures.
5. Family. Mandel grew up in suburban Cleveland and married Ilana Shafran in Jerusalem, Israel, in August 2008. The couple had three children. In January 2018, Mandel abruptly withdrew from the U.S. Senate race, saying his wife’s ill health demanded his attention and presence. Two years later, the couple ended their 12-year marriage and filed for dissolution in Ashland County. A judge agreed to seal most of the records in the case. In the 2012 senate race, Mandel made an issue out of Democrat Sherrod Brown’s divorce from 1986.
7. Suarez case. As state treasurer, Mandel wrote letters advocating for Suarez Corporation Industries’ business interests in California at the same time that company founder Ben Suarez was raising $100,000 for Mandel’s campaign for U.S. Senate. Suarez served 15 months in federal prison for witness tampering in the case but was acquitted on the campaign finance charges. Mandel was not accused of wrong doing.
8. Campaign war chest. After dropping out of the Senate race in early 2018, Mandel held onto his campaign funds and currently is sitting on $4.3 million in his campaign fund. The big cash reserve gives Mandel a head start against other contenders.