A flood of money brought in by prominent national political action committees has become the norm in this year’s U.S. Senate race in Ohio, which pits first-term incumbent Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, against Republican Josh Mandel, the state treasurer and a Jewish Iraq war veteran.
Because of the state’s swing role in recent presidential elections – going for George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 – the national parties are paying particular attention to Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. As a result, television advertisements for President Obama and the presumptive GOP challenger Mitt Romney are blitzing across the state’s airwaves along with ads from the Brown and Mandel camps.
The Ohio U.S. Senate races are consistently listed in the top three most expensive ones in the country, along with Massachusetts and Texas, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). As of the end of June, Brown’s campaign had amassed $15 million and had spent about $8.8 million, according to CRP. Mandel’s campaign had $9.9 million and had spent almost $5 million.
Polls have Brown in front by various margins. A June 25 Quinnipiac poll had Brown ahead of Mandel, 50-34, and a July 18 Rasmussen Report called the race at 46-42 in favor of the incumbent.
Support for Israel has not been a major issue in this campaign, but is being addressed by the candidates.
Mandel has not held federal office, but his backers call him a strong supporter of Israel, which on his campaign website, he calls “our most reliable ally in the Middle East.” He has been a supporter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee since his college years at Ohio State University.
Mandel has called for the United States to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has stated there is no such thing as East and West Jerusalem, adding Jews should be allowed to build homes anywhere in that city.
In his role as state treasurer, Mandel authored and was involved in divesting state pension funds from companies doing business in Iran.
Brown, who served in the U.S. House of Representative from 1993 to 2007, is one of four Senate candidates whom J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobby, has endorsed thus far in the 2012 election.
“Sherrod is committed to full funding of aid to Israel, and he supports preserving Israel’s military edge against any threats in the region,” Sadie Weiner, press secretary with Friends of Sherrod Brown, said. “He supports legislation furthering sanctions on Iran, and he also believes that no option is off the table” when it comes to dealing with Iran.