We strongly support Sherrod Brown's re-election to represent the state of Ohio in the U.S. Senate. We agree with his moderate-liberal stances on most of the issues, but also feel he's clearly the superior candidate when it comes to character and integrity.
In his first term, Brown has carved out a deserved reputation for hard-working constituent service, always making a direct and persuasive connection between a policy position that he supports and how that position helps Ohio workers and citizens.
Brown's opponent, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, should be honored for his two combat tours as a Marine in Iraq. But that doesn't excuse his sleazy "say anything to get votes" approach to political warfare, both in the current senatorial campaign and when he ran for treasurer in 2010. Independent fact-checkers and major daily editorial boards, including PolitiFact.com (a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking site run by the Tampa Bay Times), have repeatedly slammed Mandel for misleading, exaggerated or blatantly false statements about Sen. Brown. Scoring 23 of Mandel's claims about Brown, PolitiFact found that six were "Pants on Fire" false, three were just plain false, and three were mostly false.
Clearly, Mandel has a problem with the truth.
Neither has Mandel impressed with the way he took over the state Treasurer's office in 2010. Despite the fact that he attacked then Treasurer Kevin Boyce for staffing the office with political appointees, that's exactly what Mandel did himself immediately upon taking office. An investigation by the Dayton Daily News last spring found "that Mandel put qualified, experienced staff members in some top positions, but also hired six campaign workers whose average age is 26 and assigned them duties ranging from debt management to policy-advising to community outreach."
He recklessly put friends and supporters without experience into top positions where experience certainly would have been an advantage.
All of this is troubling – and in our minds disqualifies Mandel from serving in any public office. However, our main reason for urging readers to support Brown is that unlike Mandel, Sen. Brown advances a reasonable and serious approach to addressing America and Ohio's desperately serious economic, health-care, energy and foreign policy issues.
In the U.S. Senate, we don't need any more inflexible obstructionists and party-first ideologues. Yet, everything that Mandel has said and done as a candidate – as well as his strong support among the uncompromising Tea Parties – suggests that he would line up with the conservative radicals in Congress against any of the problem-solving compromises that will be absolutely necessary if this country is going to address its problems. If you're a fan of gridlock in Washington, then Josh Mandel's definitely your man.
But don't let Mandel's Tea Party support convince you that he's a man of the people. He's also benefiting mightily from the blizzard of corporate, elite and special interest money that's piling up on the Republican side of this key Senate race.
According to a recent piece on Ohio Public Radio, "nearly $18 million in outside money has been spent so far against Brown and supporting Mandel, from nine groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, as well as the largely unknown Government Integrity Fund." Brown, meanwhile, has received a sixth of that amount from four union and special-interest organizations.
If you've been following the presidential race, you likely already know which side of the issues Brown and Mandel fall on. Each, on the vast majority of issues, supports the positions of his party's presidential candidate.
For example, Brown supports common-sense regulations on industry, while Mandel, like most of his party members, talks like he's never seen an environmental regulation that he wouldn't gladly scrap. Climate-change skeptic Mandel enjoys substantial support from the national and state coal and petroleum industries, the folks who understandably want to milk Ohio's natural resources for all they're worth while paying as little as possible.
On health-care reform, Sen. Brown supported President Obama's Affordable Care Act, while Josh Mandel would scrap most of it. As more Americans become accustomed to the benefits of health-care reform, Mandel's position will increasingly become a losing proposition.
On economic and tax issues, Mandel subscribes to the discredited theory (and as Bill Clinton pointed out in his glorious Democratic National Convention speech, really poor arithmetic) that reducing government revenues through tax cuts will actually generate more money for government. This has never worked as a serious long-term approach to budget balancing. It's a particularly reckless strategy at a time when the national debt has reached a crisis stage.
Brown supports letting the Bush tax cuts expire for families earning more than $250,000 a year. While this won't put much of a dent in the budget deficit, it is a start toward fiscal solvency, and hopefully just the first step in a national realization that debt reduction will require a combination of tax increases, entitlement reform and spending cuts.
Granted, Brown and his fellow Democrats in Congress will have to compromise on spending and entitlements, in order to address the never-ending deficits. Will they do it? It's a gamble, to be sure, but we'd put our money on the Democrats surrendering on behalf of the national interest long before the Tea Party-beholden Republicans ever will.
We strongly believe that Sen. Sherrod Brown's re-election offers the best hopes for leading our nation through the very difficult times ahead. We don't want to negotiate those challenges led by a candidate who has yet to prove he can be anything more than a callow political operative pretending to be a public official.