COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Seven Republican U.S. Senate candidates are gearing up for a turning point in a campaign that’s featured millions of dollars in campaign ads, a face-to-face altercation on a debate stage and derisions of Gov. Mike DeWine as a “squishy RINO” — Republican In Name Only.
From a Cleveland investment banker to the former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, voters opting for the Republican ticket in the May 3 primary will soon have the chance to determine who qualifies for the November general election to secure a seat in the U.S. Capitol.
A poll commissioned by NBC4 in late February pegged Mike Gibbons as the frontrunner with 22.4% of the vote, followed by Josh Mandel (14.9%), J.D. Vance (7.7%), Matt Dolan (6.2%), Jane Timken (5.7%), Neil Patel (0.8%) and Mark Pukita (0.4%). Bill Graham, who raked in 2.5% of the vote, has since been disqualified from the race. As of late February, 39.4% of poll respondents said they were undecided.
A University of Akron poll conducted online between Feb. 17 and March 15 had Gibbons and Mandel neck-and-neck. Although Gibbons had 18.1% of the vote with an additional 2.5% of respondents who said they leaned toward supporting him — a total of 20.6% — Mandel had 16.8% of the vote and an additional 4.9% of voters who leaned toward voting for him — for a total of 21.7%.
The University of Akron poll also had Timken (5.2%) polling slightly above Dolan (4.3%).
Here’s a look at who’s running on the Republican ticket for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat:
Two-time Senate candidate and Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons, 70, is poised by recent polling as the frontrunner in the crowded field of Republican Senate candidates.
Gibbons, of Parma, made headlines in March after a moderator was forced to break up a face-to-face altercation between him and his opponent Josh Mandel during a Republican primary debate in March.
The exchange spiraled after Mandel accused Gibbons of making billions of dollars by shipping his companies to China – to which Gibbons responded by attacking Mandel for failing to understand the private sector.
As a gun owner and lifetime member of the NRA, Gibbons pledged to fight “Biden’s unconstitutional gun-grabbing agenda” if he’s elected to the Senate, according to his campaign website.
The millionaire businessman at the Cleveland-based Brown Gibbons Lang & Company and longtime GOP donor argued in October that the middle class doesn’t pay “any kind of fair share” in income taxes, lauding his support for a flat tax rate.
Like many of his opponents, Gibbons, who served as the Ohio finance co-chair for former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, has decried the results of the 2020 election despite more than 60 failed lawsuits and numerous fruitless investigations and audits.
After Gibbons claimed that women have not been oppressed, appeared to use a derogatory term against women during a debate, and claimed his Republican opponent Jane Timken “barely worked” in her life, Timken chastised his comments as “misogynistic and anti-woman.”
Gibbons’ campaign has raised about $17.4 million — about $12 million of which has come from his own pocketbook — leading both Republican and Democratic primary candidates in the money race, according to the Federal Election Commission.
For more information about Gibbons’ campaign, visit his website.
The Marine veteran and former two-term Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel, 44, threw his name into the hat for U.S. Senate.
Mandel has positioned his campaign around his “pro-God, pro-gun, pro-Trump” slogan, touting his support for establishing the U.S. as a Judeo-Christian nation, preserving Americans’ access to firearms, and criticizing moderate Republicans like DeWine as “squishy RINOs.”
A proponent of preserving the nuclear family unit, Mandel said he strongly believes that marriage is between a man and a woman – and chastised the “far-left’s obsession with gender identity,” asserting his belief that children can’t pick and choose their gender, his campaign website reads.
Mandel lauded his creation of OhioCrypto.com in 2018 to allow Ohioans to pay taxes using cryptocurrency, but online searches of the site revealed the domain is no longer in use. The Associated Press reported in November 2019 that the program, which Attorney General Dave Yost said “skirted state law,” was shut down after Mandel left office.
Regardless, the blockchain technology fan has pledged to move the needle of public opinion towards the use of cryptocurrency as a way to limit government power and provide people with greater freedom over their finances.
Like the majority of Ohio Republicans running for U.S. Senate, Mandel berated the instruction of critical race theory in classrooms – but took his education platform even further, calling for the elimination of the Department of Education on his website.
As for foreign policy, Mandel is a staunch defender of the U.S. alliance with Israel and called for finishing construction on Trump’s wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to his website.
Mandel’s campaign has raised about $4.3 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
For more information about Mandel’s campaign, visit his website.
While most of the policies of U.S. Senate candidate Matt Dolan closely align with those of his competitors, Dolan set himself apart from the crowd: he refused to believe baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from former Trump.
The 57-year-old state senator from Chardon is a part-owner of the Cleveland Guardians and served as an assistant state attorney general and later as a chief assistant prosecutor in Geauga County, according to his campaign website.
Dolan’s experience extends to the private sector, where he worked as a partner at a Chardon-based law firm. And, he serves as an adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve School of Law and Kent State University’s Geauga campus, according to his website.
While Dolan said he fought for financial literacy and mental health services in Ohio’s schools, he pledged to vote in favor of a state bill to ban the instruction of critical race theory, his website reads.
Dolan is also the only Republican primary candidate to list environmental issues as a campaign priority on his website, touting his efforts to improve Ohio’s water quality while a state senator.
He also touted his efforts in the statehouse to reduce the number of Ohio’s income tax brackets from nine to four, a move he said saved Ohioans “time and money,” his website reads.
In response to what he called the attacks by “socialist Democrats” against law enforcement in Ohio, Dolan doubled down his support for police officers and pledged to “unapologetically BACK THE BLUE and stop any attempt to defund the police,” according to his campaign website.
Dolan’s campaign has raised about $11 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
For more information about Dolan’s campaign, visit his website.
JD Vance, a venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” has one thing his Republican Senate opponents don’t: the coveted Trump endorsement.
While the “conservative outsider” and Marine veteran declared himself a “never Trumper” in 2016, the 37-year-old has since reversed course, characterizing Trump as “the greatest president” in his lifetime.
A Middletown native, Vance has positioned himself as a champion for the working class, pledging to fight poverty in Ohio and in his southwestern hometown, where the poverty rate sits 15% higher than the national average, according to his campaign website and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Restoring America’s manufacturing base and keeping jobs in the U.S. is a key component of Vance’s campaign, and he applauded Trump’s efforts to impose punitive tariffs on companies that ship jobs overseas.
He pledged to break up big tech companies who he said often pay lower tax rates than many Ohio manufacturers – and condemned some multinational companies who he said “funded Black Lives Matter riots that destroyed our towns and cities,” according to his campaign website.
Vance, whose mother had a substance abuse disorder, said he’ll fight to combat the opioid epidemic in Ohio by cracking down on illegal drugs and supporting those dealing with addiction, his website reads.
Also supporting the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, Vance touted his support for election integrity-supporting measures like requiring voter ID at the polls, signature verification on absentee ballots, and abolishing mail-in voting, according to his website.
Vance’s campaign has raised about $2.5 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
For more information about Vance’s campaign, visit his website.
The sole female battling for the Republican nomination for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat is Jane Timken, an attorney and former chair of the Ohio Republican Party chair.
In a jab against her male opponents, the Sen. Rob Portman-endorsed candidate described herself as a “mom on a mission” who’s a stark contrast from her competitors who “overcompensate for their inadequacies,” she said in campaign ads.
A Cincinnati native who now lives on a farm in Stark County, Timken touted her ability to rid the Ohio GOP of “decay” after she claimed former Gov. John Kasich left it in “an anti-Trump mess,” according to her website.
If elected, Timken said she’ll keep her promise to restore “historic Trump-era tax cuts that unleashed America’s economic engine” and combat the Green New Deal to protect Ohio’s oil and gas industries.
She pledged to vote against the For the People Act, a voting reform resolution introduced in Congress to expand voter registration and require independent commissioners to carry out redistricting– a bill Timken characterized as a “Democratic power grab” that will undermine the integrity of U.S. elections, her website reads.
Timken’s campaign has raised about $7.7 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
For more about Timken’s campaign, visit her website.
Mark Pukita, a businessman from Dublin who previously owned the information technology company Fast Switch, is fighting to secure a spot in the U.S. Senate.
Running as a “constitutional conservative” who has criticized the “empty promises from Washington insiders,” Pukita called for the imposition of term limits for politicians and strengthening punishments for corrupt elected officials, according to his website.
He also touted his support for defunding the federal Department of Education and outlawing both comprehensive sex education and critical race theory in Ohio’s schools, his website reads.
Before falsely claiming that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump during a March debate, Pukita asked debate moderator Karen Kasler not to fact-check his statements.
Pukita’s campaign has raised nearly $501,000, according to the Federal Election Committee.
For more information about Pukita’s campaign, visit his website.
Throwing his hat into the Ohio U.S. Senate ring is Neil Patel, a businessman from Westerville.
During a March debate, Patel joined most of his Republican opponents in claiming the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump – only to be deemed false by debate moderator Karen Kasler, who fact-checked the candidates’ answers.
A Republican Delaware County Central Committee member, Patel has espoused his support for Trump-era federal policies like strengthening security at the U.S.-Mexico border.
He argued that Americans must get “back to the basics for our children’s education,” adding that “we have too much diversity” and “we need to treat everyone equally,” according to his website.
Patel also pledged, if elected, to reduce the influence of money in politics, adding that “no one should spend $30 million dollars on a statewide race,” his website reads.
Patel’s campaign has raised about $82,000, trailing behind his Republican opponents, according to the Federal Election Commission.
For more information about Patel’s campaign, visit his website.