Dueling endorsements in U.S. Senate primary underscore the fight for Ohio’s conservatives

Dueling endorsements in U.S. Senate primary underscore the fight for Ohio’s conservatives

Josh Mandel speaking at High Street Baptist Church. (photo by Nick Evans) Culture wars dominated Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel’s parting message to voters. He cut a swath through the state last weekend, visiting churches in Dayton, Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati alongside his highest profile supporter, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX. Red Meat On the campaign trail, on debate stages and on tv ads, Mandel has returned to a three-part formula that sums up his political program: Pro-God, Pro-Gun, Pro-Trump. Curiously, those last two were no-shows in his campaign’s benediction to voters in Columbus. Mandel didn’t bring up guns or the Second Amendment once as he addressed a crowd of more than 100 at High Street Baptist Church Saturday evening. Less curiously perhaps, he’s been talking a lot less about Donald Trump since the former president endorsed J.D. Vance. Mandel has repeatedly described himself as Pro-God, Pro-Gun, Pro-Trump. (screen capture of a Mandel campaign ad) Mandel made up for their absence by leaning heavily into the latest issues to inflame the conservative base. “Boys are boys and girls are girls,” got the biggest applause of the evening, until he co-opted part of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech to deride critical race theory. But the response to both paled in comparison to a measure Mandel, as a U.S. Senator, would have nothing to do with. “Let me tell you what the backpack bill is,” Mandel told the crowd. “This is a bill that says moms and dads, […]

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