Opinion: Josh Mandel, absent and absent-minded

Jody Michael

I’ve been seeing a new campaign ad lately about our local U.S. Senate race. It’s from Republican candidate Josh Mandel’s campaign, and it criticizes Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown for having missed more than 350 votes during his time in Congress.

Wow! 350 seems like a lot. But then I checked the records online. It’s true that he’s missed 351 votes in his 20-year congressional career. But since the beginning of 2010, he’s missed just three of 726 recorded votes. That means the percentage of votes he’s missed in the past three years is just a half-percent, way better than the median of 2.5 percent.

Mandel’s criticism of Brown doesn’t look as good when it’s about a problem he seems to have rectified. But maybe that’s why the campaign didn’t mention that inconvenient fact in the ad.

But suppose you still think Brown’s attendance record is unacceptable. Is Mandel sure to do better? The facts suggest he’s sure to do worse.

As current state treasurer, Mandel is one of three members on the State Board of Deposit, which is in charge of state money deposits into banks and other financial institutions. It seems like an important and central part of his job.

Mandel has been Treasurer since January 2011. The Board of Deposit meets every month. So it’s really weird that the first Board meeting he attended since his election was in March of this year. That means he missed the first 14, sometimes scheduling radio interviews or traveling for fundraisers instead.

Yes, fundraisers, because Mandel declared he would compete for Brown’s Senate seat not even four months after settling into his job as treasurer. After signing his candidacy papers on April 5 of last year, Federal Election Commission laws required him to submit a personal financial disclosure report within 30 days. He finally released it in November — five months late.

Now, one way to make up for his disregard for important meetings and deadlines would be if he had some specific ideas for if he becomes a senator. But he seems to prefer giving irrelevant non-answers.

He says he’s against bailouts, but when a Dayton reporter asked him what he would have done with General Motors, all he’d say was that he would fill Dayton-area auto plants with Dayton-area workers — no specifics of how.

When asked his opinion of how poorly-paid Suarez Corp. employees were somehow giving his campaign $5,000 donations, his response was that too many of Brown’s donations are coming from outside the state. (In fairness, he later returned the donations.)

When a Plain Dealer reporter asked him about his history of ducking questions, his response was, “I think there’s some issues that I’d like to wait until I’m a senator and deal with them in a bipartisan way.”

Josh Mandel: Vote for him first, and find out what his plans are later. That is, if he even shows up.

Look, I’m all for replacing bad congressmen with better ones. Maybe you don’t agree with Brown on certain issues. Fine. But does any legitimate evidence exist to argue that Mandel would be a good, respectable senator?

Jody Michael is a senior news major and opinion editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].