The conservative Club for Growth is endorsing former state Treasurer Josh Mandel in next year’s Ohio Senate primary, giving him a high-profile backer in the race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman.
Mandel, a 43-year-old Marine veteran, was the first Republican to enter the race after Portman announced he would not seek a third term. Former state party chair Jane Timken has also launched her campaign, and several other Republicans are seriously considering running.
The Club for Growth previously endorsed Mandel in 2012, when he lost to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, and in 2018 when he launched a second campaign against Brown before dropping out of the race due to family health concerns. Along with the endorsement, the Club released internal polling showing Mandel with a big edge over the rest of the potential Republican field largely thanks to a huge advantage in how many GOP voters know him, according to details shared first with POLITICO.
“Josh Mandel is not only an American patriot who served two tours in Iraq, but he is also a strong constitutional conservative who believes in limited government, balanced budgets, low taxation and parental school choice,” David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth PAC, said in a statement.
The endorsement could be a big boost for Mandel in what is expected to become an expensive and crowded primary. Timken is the only other announced candidate and has already aired TV ads on Fox News since launching her bid. Several others considering the race, including businessmen Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno, state Sen. Matt Dolan, and Reps. Steve Stivers and Warren Davidson, among others.
Several potential candidates could invest their own funds in their bids, making the primary even more expensive. Mandel started with more than $4 million in his campaign account from previous runs for office.
In a poll conducted by WPA Intelligence in early February on behalf of the Club, Mandel had 38 percent support among GOP primary voters, while Stivers had 11 percent and Timken had 6 percent. More than one-third of voters were undecided. The early polling is likely based significantly on name ID, as Mandel, who has appeared on a statewide ballot in three different elections, is much better known than other prospective candidates.
The poll showed Mandel with 69 percent name ID among primary voters, with 42 percent viewing him favorably and just 9 percent viewing him unfavorably. Stivers was the second best-known candidate, followed by Timken and Gibbons, all of whom had positive ratings but were largely unknown.
WPA intelligence surveyed 509 likely GOP primary voters from Feb. 1-3, with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.4 percentage points.
The post Club for Growth endorses Mandel in Ohio GOP Senate primary appeared first on Politico.