This November Ohioans will be electing a U.S. Senator. We’ll be choosing between incumbent Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and Republican Josh Mandel.
Sherrod Brown is a prototype Democrat. He is a forceful advocate for labor unions, and strongly supported the government bailout of GM and Chrysler — but ardently opposes bailouts of banks and touts an “end too big to fail” petition that seeks to break up the big banks. Brown has a decidedly liberal voting record and is a reliable supporter of President Obama’s legislative agenda. He’s been a figure on the Ohio political scene for years and he possesses the magical Brown name, which has given Ohio politicians a leg up on their opponents since the dawn of time.
Josh Mandel, in contrast, is a relative newcomer. He’s 34, but looks younger. Mandel is a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq, is a strong proponent of cutting federal spending and balancing the federal budget, and is the darling of many conservative pundits. He was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 2006 and currently serves as the state’s Treasurer — although he’s criticized for not doing much in that position while focusing on running for the Senate.
It’s an election that will present some sharp contrasts of liberal versus conservative and experience versus youth. With Republicans trying to regain control of the Senate, the race has attracted enormous attention and buckets of money from outside the state, which means we’re already seeing lots of negative ads about both candidates. The early polls show Brown in the lead.
The Brown-Mandel match-up is another instance in which Ohio — as is so often the case — may be a bellwether state. Come Election Night, the results of this contest should tell us a lot about the direction in which the country is heading.