Mandel is one of those people who seems able to squeeze more days into a year than the rest of us. In contrast to many young men who are still living with their parents after college, Mandel has been a lawyer, a councilman, a member of the Ohio legislature, a U.S. Marine, and Ohio's state treasurer. He boasts that when he first ran for the Ohio legislature (in a 2-1 Democratic district), he knocked on 19,679 doors, wearing out three pairs of shoes. (He hung the shoes on his office wall.) When he swears that no one will outwork him, you believe.
He speaks with energy and philosophical clarity, and Ohio's Republicans are smitten. As a young councilman, he helped push through a property tax reduction for Lyndhurst, Ohio, the first in history. A believer in free market capitalism, he was named "Watchdog of the Treasury" by United Conservatives of Ohio. He believes in free market capitalism, exploitation of Ohio's (and the nation's) plentiful supplies of coal, gas and oil, and limited government. He is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage and pro-Israel (while Brown is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and supports the Israel critics at J Street). While in the Ohio legislature, Mandel pushed to divest from firms doing business with Iran. And he believes that American leadership -- economic, military and ideological -- is essential for the world.
The race is not going to be easy -- inertia being one of the most powerful forces in political life. But Sherrod Brown is a big spending liberal at an awkward moment of persistently high unemployment (Ohio's rate matches the nation's at 9.1 percent) and widespread disillusionment with President Obama. In a notable show of strength, Mandel has raised $2.3 million in the past quarter, compared with Brown's $1.5. (Full disclosure: my husband contributed to Mandel's campaign.) Brown's war chest remains larger because he's been raising funds for six years. But Mandel, with the support of Tea Party groups, Republicans and conservatives in Ohio, is mounting a formidable challenge.