Watch: Josh Mandel Leads Ohio GOP Primary Chaos, Gets In Mike Gibbons’ Face, Because It’s 2022 | Ohio News | Cincinnati

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photo: screenshot, FreedomWorks YouTube channel

Mike Gibbons and Josh Mandel sing “Islands in the Stream” during an Ohio Senate Republican primary on March 18, 2022. Wait not…

The leading candidates for the Republican nomination for the US Senate from Ohio met in Gahanna on Friday. Two of them almost came to blows.

The FreedomWorks-hosted candidate forum turned into a schoolyard for Josh Mandel’s best impression of a bully. The other four candidates, state Sen. Matt Dolan, investment banker Mike Gibbons, former GOP chairwoman Jane Timken and author JD Vance did their best to avoid the mess, but it was easier said than done. They did not survive opening statements before Mandel began attacking Gibbons.

the substance

The moderator took the candidates through foreign policy, big tech “censorship” (twice), critical race theory, the opioid crisis, and their feelings on Donald Trump’s presidency. The candidates largely agreed on supporting Ukraine, but complained about how Congress passed a nearly $14 billion support package.

“You can’t just put, in the dead of night, all these spending provisions in a bill, drop it on people’s desks, and say you have 12 hours to vote on this,” Dolan argued.

Vance has argued against taking part in the Ukraine war, raising his eyebrows as he said he didn’t really care what happened. His position hasn’t really changed, but the framing has. Instead of emphasizing neglect, he uses the conflict to criticize established Republicans who failed to fund Trump’s border wall and to warn against American adventurism.

“The only thing that will save Joe Biden’s presidency is if a bunch of weak-willed, stupid Republicans allow this guy to get us into a war we don’t have to fight,” he told the crowd.

It bears repeating that Biden has insisted, from the beginning and repeatedly since, that US troops will not be sent to fight in Ukraine.

Timken criticized big tech as “the weapon of cancel culture and the awakening left.”

But beneath the red meat rhetoric, his arguments were not that different from what many on the left have demanded. Divide them, do not let companies profit from your data, reform or eliminate article 230, argued the candidates.

“There is no reason for Facebook or Meta, as they are called, to be as powerful as they are and also meddling in our elections,” Timken said.

the confrontation

Almost immediately, it was clear that Mandel would use the forum to attack Gibbons. In his opening remarks, Mandel argued that the fight for the “soul of the Republican Party” was even more important than the fight against the Democrats.

“Here is the fork in the roads,” he argued. “There is a way for these soft-spoken RINO Republicans, many of whom have been pro-China over the years, to go.”

He rattled off the list of excommunicated Republicans—Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Mitt Romney—before turning to Gibbons.

“(He) had all these companies here in the United States and made money selling them to China,” Mandel said. “That is not the path we should be taking in this country.”

Mandel repeatedly addressed his responses to Gibbons’ investment holdings, criticizing him for shipping Ohio jobs overseas, selling companies “to China,” or simply owning stock in Chinese companies. The third time he tried it, Mandel’s tactic was met with sustained boos from the crowd.

“Once again, Josh is showing his ignorance,” Gibbons said after a Lordstown Motors-related criticism. He then turned to the former state treasurer and asked, “Josh, do you know anything about economics or finance?”

Gibbons also did a dig he uses regularly on the campaign: Mandel has “zero” experience in the private sector. It’s technically incorrect, after all, Mandel has happily cashed checks since he left office to serve on corporate boards and advise payday lenders. He’s also a bit of a fake, as the inexperienced tag usually implies a career that doesn’t include military service.

Regardless, when Gibbons told Mandel, “You may not understand this,” about a stock trade, Mandel jumped out of his seat to confront Gibbons.

“You’ve never been in the private sector in your entire life,” Gibbons insisted. “You don’t know how to squat.”

“Two tours in Iraq,” growled Mandel, “don’t tell me I haven’t worked.”

The other candidates exchanged awkward laughs as the moderator interrupted the incident as the crowd booed.

“You’re dealing with the wrong guy,” Mandel said, returning to his seat. “Watch what happens, p —–, watch what happens.”

The incident is in keeping with Mandel’s increasingly belligerent campaign. He has taken to ending the campaign ads with the slogan “send in the navy.”

A few minutes after the confrontation, Vance, who is also a Marine Corps veteran, rebuked Mandel.

“I think the way you use the US Marine Corps, Josh, is disgraceful,” Vance said. “It’s not a political football for you to play.”

After the event ended, Gibbons made his way through the crowd to shake hands with attendees, but he refused to speak to reporters. Instead, his campaign sent out a press release after the fact calling Mandel “unhinged, inept and agitated.”

Mandel handled things differently.

When the forum concluded, he shook hands with his opponents and ran off the stage. He pushed his way through the crowd and headed straight for the service kitchen.

In a straw poll, Mandel got only 4.6%, the last among the candidates on stage. The winner was JD Vance with about 43% of the votes.

Speaking after the event, Vance called Mandel’s behavior “disgraceful” but didn’t want to dwell on it, instead focusing on how the crowd had reacted to the points he raised during the night. But when asked about Mandel’s departure, Vance smiled and paused.

“Well,” he said. “If he had had his debate, he might as well have run to the kitchen.”

This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and is republished here with permission.

city ​​rhythm appendix:

The Internet took clips of the Mandel-Gibbons fight and did what the Internet does best.

Politico examined which candidate said “fuck.”

Politico had an update on Sunday, but the verdict is still out.

But best of all, an NBC News reporter set up the fight with one of the greatest duos of all time.

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