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The Negative Guys

Josh Mandel’s uphill struggle.

Nov 5, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 08 • By KATE HAVARD
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Even so, the attack ads have taken a toll. To make matters worse, PolitiFact Ohio has been practically a partner of the Brown campaign. The organization even “fact checked” Mandel’s Marine medals, something it has not done for other veterans. Although PolitiFact Ohio admitted it was “true” that Mandel was a “decorated veteran,” it felt compelled to add that he had not “received the valor device, which denotes performance in combat.” Mandel never said he had.

PolitiFact Ohio has given Mandel six “Pants on Fire” rankings. Brown has received only one. And PolitiFact Ohio writer Tom Feran hasn’t hidden his partisanship. In August, the website Media Trackers caught him referring to Republicans as “wingnuts” and promoting an article that called conservatism a “cancer” on his Twitter feed.

Sherrod Brown cites PolitiFact’s rulings as evidence Mandel is running a dishonest campaign. What he doesn’t mention is that PolitiFact Ohio is run by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where Brown’s wife, Connie Schultz, was a popular columnist. Schultz left the paper last year, after she was seen filming Mandel, already her husband’s likely opponent, at a Tea Party event.

All the attacks have left Ohioans with a bad taste in their mouths. Carl Heines, 63, says: “I don’t like either guy. This mudslinging is so counterproductive.” Heines usually votes Republican, but he’s not so sure this time. “Do I like Sherrod Brown? No. But he’s seasoned, he’s been out there, and things haven’t collapsed. How do I know Josh is going to be different? How many people does he owe, after all his campaign contributions?”

Eric Sattler, 44, says he’s a Republican voting against Sherrod Brown, not for Mandel. “I shouldn’t say this, but Mandel, I don’t have a lot of confidence in him, he’s just so young. .  .  . I certainly think his heart’s in the right place.” Still, Sattler adds, “Putting Mickey Mouse in would be better than Sherrod Brown.”

Despite the attacks, Mandel has been closing the gap. After trailing Brown by as much as 15 points earlier this year, the latest Rasmussen poll has him behind by 4 points, and a SurveyUSA poll has him down by only 1. If the trend continues, he might just add “U.S. senator” to the top of his résumé.

Kate Havard is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.

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