Ohio Republican Senate Candidates Court Evangelical Tories at Suburban Columbus Forum
WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Republicans seeking a seat in the Ohio United States Senate next year shared similar views on Sunday night at a candidates’ forum in suburban Columbus for socially conservative evangelical voters.
With one major exception.
Ohio Sen. Matt Dolan, an elected official supporting an anti-LGBT discrimination bill while leading a campaign distancing himself from former President Donald Trump, made a joke that summed up his experience: “If you haven’t figured it out yet , I’m a pretty practical person. And tonight, I feel a bit like a Browns fan at Pittsburgh Stadium. “
The candidates’ forum was the first time that all of the top GOP candidates had been on stage at the same time, with Dolan, Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons, former state treasurer Josh Mandel, entrepreneur of Cleveland Bernie Moreno, former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken and memorial / investor JD Vance all attending. All of the candidates except Dolan appeared at another candidate forum earlier this month, the first in the campaign.
All are running for the Republican nomination to replace Senator Rob Portman, a Republican who is not seeking re-election next year. The overcrowded Republican primary is one of the costliest elections in the country.
Although all of the candidates – aside from Dolan – are heading far to the political right of Portman, Mandel, Moreno, Timken and Vance have all said they will accept Portman’s endorsement. All also argued on Sunday that they could beat U.S. Representative Tim Ryan, the leading Democratic candidate, in November.
The debate was hosted by the Center for Christian Virtue, a socially conservative organization that lobbies against LGBT causes within state government, and before a crowd of around 950 people at the Baptist Church in Genoa, in the exterior of the Columbus suburb of Westerville. Conservative radio host and native of Warren, Ohio, Hugh Hewitt served as co-moderator.
Aaron Baer, ââCCV president and second co-moderator, opened the event by referring to the âdarknessâ which he said has enveloped âthe culture and state of our political debateâ.
âWe’re eight months away from that primary election in May, and it’s amazing that these candidates thought it was so important that you Christian voters hear about them, come eight months to speak to you. Because your vote counts, âhe said.
Dolan got flat answers when he said he would have certified the results of the January 6 presidential election and when he presented an LGBT anti-discrimination bill – which CCV opposes – which it co-sponsored as a limited means of attracting jobs. The rest of the Republican candidates said they would oppose the federal equivalent if they went to Washington. Moreno’s company is listed as a member of a coalition of businesses supporting Dolan’s bill, but Moreno said he was not familiar with the details.
Dolan presented himself as an experienced and practical politician who would get things done and attract independent voters in November. He is the only candidate to support the infrastructure bill negotiated by Portman, another position that did not make him popular with the Sunday crowd.
âAll these guys say they want infrastructureâ¦ President Trump said he wanted infrastructure, and Republicans didn’t pass a bill. You have to pass a bill, âDolan said.
Mandel, meanwhile, who has organized events throughout his campaign in evangelical churches, was in his element. He has repeatedly stated that he does not believe in the concept of separation of church and state. He also said when he travels to Washington, DC, that he will have two documents as a guide. âI will have the Bible in one hand and the Constitution in the other,â said Mandel, who is Jewish.
âLook, I’ve been friends with most of the people on that stage,â Mandel said, âand I can tell you they’re all good people, and I have a lot of respect for them. I can tell you there is only one guy here who is going to take the steel spine of a marine the same way I took Kasich when he was acting like a Democrat on the street in the Statehouse.
Bernie Moreno received the loudest applause of the night when he criticized the lockdowns put in place by Governor Mike DeWine and others in response to the coronavirus crisis. He blamed the worsening dependency rates on closures and shot Mandel, in one of the rare instances of one candidate directly criticizing another.
âI loved your steel spine, that’s why I supported you in 2012,â he said, turning to Mandel. âBut where was it last summer? When I received death threats, I denounced the confinement. This is the difference. When you weren’t running for office, what were you doing? “
Mandel was also applauded when he said the November election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, a claim unique to Trump Justice and homeland security departments rejected, just like some high-level republicans, including Portman and Mitch McConnell, the leader of the GOP US Senate, and dozens of state and federal courts.
Vance sent nearly $ 1 million worth of attack announcements over the weekend to the attacker for his past opposition to Trump. He claimed that one of the supporting organizations, which backs Mandel, attacks him because of its support for manufacturing tariffs.
He warned the crowd that âwaking businessesâ pose more and more risks to social conservatives like a Liberal government.
âAmerica’s fundamental battle cannot be resolved by another corporate tax cut,â Vance said. “We don’t need judges who follow the Chamber of Commerce line and stab social conservatives in the back.”
Gibbons, an investment banker funding his own campaign, boasted of giving money to 73 different school board candidates.
âI have given speeches statewide. I’m not sure it’s better to go to a school board and be kicked out of the reunion, but the way I fight is to put my money where my mouth is, âhe said. said, referring to an episode in which Mandel was kicked out of a school board meeting in the Cincinnati area earlier this month.
Jane Timken invoked the language of the Cold War era when referring to recent reports that the Chinese government has developed hypersonic ballistic missiles capable of evading US missile defense technology. Like other candidates, she attacked President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy, which she said made the United States appear weak.
âIt’s not ping-pong, folks. It’s real. And right now, as it is, it’s our Sputnik moment, âshe said. âNow is the time for America to step inâ¦ Ronald Reagan won a Cold War without firing a shot. But we have to make sure China dreads us again. “