State Treasurer Josh Mandel is leaning toward a run for the U.S. Senate in 2012 and will make an announcement this spring.
Mandel has been urged by Republican leaders to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown as other potential GOP candidates increasingly appear unlikely to run, including Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, and U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan of Urbana, Pat Tiberi of Genoa Township, and Steve LaTourette of Bainbridge Township.
Mandel, who became treasurer in January, is known for his fundraising prowess; he’ll need it, given estimates that both Brown and his challenger will need to raise at least $15 million. Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine said Mandel would be “a formidable candidate” against Brown.
Mandel is a 33-year-old Iraq War veteran and served two terms as a state legislator prior to crushing his Democratic opponent in Ohio's State Treasurer race last year. He's Jewish, an across-the-board conservative, and has won favorable reviews from Red State. Hugh Hewitt calls him Sherrod Brown's "worst nightmare."
A new Quinnipiac poll -- almost meaningless at this early stage -- shows Sen. Brown comfortably leading a generic Republican challenger (he's in considerably better shape than the president in Buckeyeland ), but remains five points shy of the magic 50 percent "safe incumbent" threshold. NRSC spokesman Chris Bond spins this as a sign of vulnerability:
“It’s striking that after more than four years in the U.S. Senate and without even a Republican opponent yet in the race, 55 percent of Ohio voters are not supporting Sherrod Brown for re-election. It’s not entirely surprising, however, when you consider that Sherrod Brown was just named the most liberal member of the Senate. On the issues of taxes, spending and debt, Senator Brown has consistently stood on the side of a bigger government that has more control over the lives of families and small businesses. He is out-of-step and to the far left of Ohio, and that’s why we expect this race will be among the most competitive Senate races next year.”
UPDATE - Here's video of Brown channeling Dick Durbin: