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On Wednesday, we dropped in on Joe Walsh, who's been smothering the voters of Illinois-8 with a wet, smelly blanket of douchebaggery since 2010.

Today, we're doing a grip-and-grin with another of the Republican Party's seemingly endless reserve of douchebags.

Josh Mandel is Ohio State Treasurer (mostly non-functiong, according to critics) and is challenging incumbent Sherrod Brown for his Senate seat.

continued beneath the orange cloud of Brownian goodness

Mandel gave Ohio voters a taste of what was to come when his campaign for the Treasurer's office released an ad attacking his opponent Kevin Boyce. The ad, which accused Boyce of handing out a job to a supporter that he'd only made available at "...their mosque", hinted that Boyce is a Muslim (for the record, he's not):
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The outcry that followed gave Mandel pause for thought (or at least calculation) and he went on TV to voice his regret (giving viewers a preview of the rather alarming facial tics to come):
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A moving display of pitiless self-analysis, I think you'll agree.

Appearing on Wednesday at an Independence, Ohio function to support Mandel, Rudy '9/11' Giuliani called Mandel a “really exciting young man”.

According to cleveland.com, (a website powered by The Cleveland Plain Dealer), Giuliani claimed that: “It is so refreshing to see a young man like Josh. Instead of complaining about the situation that was handed to him, he said, ‘Here’s what you do,’”.

Hmmm...well, let's look at what Mandel has done since taking office. In 2010, while running against then Ohio State Treasurer Kevin Boyce, Mandel repeatedly made claims that Boyce employed people who were unqualified to serve in the Treasurer's office and were, in fact, a threat to the state's assets overseen by that office.

Mandel assured the voters of Ohio that he would conduct himself very differently if elected.

“Unlike the current officeholder, I will ensure that my staff is comprised of qualified financial professionals — rather than political cronies and friends — and that investment decisions are based on what is best for Ohioans,” Mandel said in October 2010 during his first statewide election. -- Dayton Daily News
Here's the oily Mandel voicing his faux concerns (and giving his unfortunate facial tics another workout):
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Of course, you don't need to be a psychic to predict what would happen when Mandel won the election. He's a Republican, for Pete's sake.

According to the Dayton Daily News, as Treasurer Mandel hired young and inexperienced staff from his campaign to fill multiple positions ranging from head debt analyst to chief policy advisor.

Mandel selected 27-year-old Michael Lord as his senior policy advisor. Lord served as Mandel's 2010 campaign manager and legislative aide while Mandel was a State Representative. Lord also collected almost $90,000 in political consulting fees from the Mandel campaign between 2009 and 2011.

Lord's new position as senior policy advisor pays $100,000 p.a. which is significantly more than the $13.95 an hour he was making as Mandel’s legislative aide.

According to the Dayton Daily News, one of Mandel’s first appointments was the then 26-year-old Joe Aquiliano. In 2010, Aquiliano served as the Mandel campaign’s political director; Mandel made him director of debt management for the State of Ohio at a salary of $90,000 a year.

In early 2011, according to a report in The Huffington Post, Aquilano was sent on a beginner's course on the subject of...erm...debt management. He attended a seminar on the fundamentals of municipal bond law that was being given at the National Association of Bond Lawyers' conference.

The Huffington Post spoke to Wilson White, one of the country's leading experts in the field of municipal bonds. Mr. White had this to say:

“Just let me say to be a director of finance of a major state at 26 is highly unusual,” White said. “I know of no parallel example that I’ve come across in all my 60 years of municipal bond experience. I just find it hard to believe.”
Mr. White went on to add:
“I say this as general rule rather than an accusation because I don’t know this guy; he may be the Einstein of bonds, but I find that extremely hard if not impossible to believe."
These matters came up in a recent interview Mandel gave to Canton, Ohio radio host Ron Ponder; it didn't go well for the beef-witted Mandel (h/t to David Nir and The Daily Kos Elections Live Digest team):

Ponder: Joe Aquilino I believe you pronounce his name, a former campaign aide, was named Director of Debt Management, paid $90,000, had no experience in finance and you sent him to a beginner's course in the subject. How do you answer those charges?

Mandel: Well first of all, Ron, I thought I was going on the Ron Ponder show, not the Sherrod Brown campaign show.

Ponder: I'm asking you questions that people have asked you, and I'm just trying to get answers. I'll do the same thing with Senator Sherrod Brown, so don't accuse me of being a lackey for Sherrod Brown. I'm just asking you questions that my listeners want to know.

Mandel: Hey, I'm not accusing you Ron, I'm just telling you what it sounds like.…

Ponder: Now the Democrats are accusing you of the same thing, and I'm just asking you to answer the question about the salaries and the folks you've hired. I'm just asking you that question.

Mandel: Bunch of hogwash Ron, it's a bunch of hogwash. It's Sherrod Brown trying to distract from the record.

Ponder: Josh, is Michael Lord, is Michael Lord your former campaign manager, getting $100,000 from your office, is it yes or no?

Mandel: Ron we have qualified financial professionals in our office...

Ponder: Josh, is it yes or no?

Mandel:
Sherrod Brown's the only candidate, the only candidate in this race, his transition director...

Ponder: Josh, just answer the question.

    (After receiving no answers)

Ponder:
Hang up on this dude, man.

The profound respect Mandel inspires in others is a sight to behold, isn't it? "Hang up on this dude, man."

We hear you.

Mandel raised some eyebrows (not amongst Republican Party hacks, obviously: they're Republicans for Pete's sake) and made headlines in March of this year when he flew to the Bahamas on a weekday to give a speech to pay-day lenders and hold a campaign fundraiser while he was there.

Ah...pay-day lenders; since Ohio passed legislation in 2009, Ohio pay-day loan sharks can no longer charge up to 690% interest p.a. The law limits them to charging 26%.

Gee, I wonder what the pay-day lenders wanted from  State Treasurer Mandel? Golly, I just can't imagine.

Nor is Mandel putting himself at the risk of exhaustion: Mandel's office calendar for his first 12 months in office showed what might charitably be called 'a light schedule'. His calendar from a year ago lists roughly two meetings a day and some of those were conducted by phone.

Mandel's knowledge of the law is even shakier than his knowledge of finance. The law requires that any declared candidate for US Senate file a financial disclosure by May 15, 2011. State Treasurer Mandel did not file that disclosure form until November 4, 2011. He paid a $200 fine for the tardiness in filing

To be fair, Mandel was probably too busy campaigning for Sherrod Brown's Senate seat. And how has that been going? Not spectacularly well but thanks for asking.

In March, The Cleveland Plain Dealer published an article that began:

Josh Mandel's already casual relationship with the truth took a turn toward outright estrangement this month.
Not a very encouraging start for Mandel one might think. But wait...it gets worse. From the same article:
The Republican state treasurer and aspiring U.S. senator blamed incumbent rival Sherrod Brown for Ohio jobs relocating to China, a transparent attempt to turn Brown's strong position on foreign trade into a weakness.

Mixing audacity with absurdity, the claim earned a Pants on Fire rating from PolitiFact Ohio.

For the Mandel campaign, the rebuke from the fact-checking arm of The Plain Dealer was just another day at the office. Mandel has received three of PolitiFact Ohio's seven most recent Pants on Fire rulings. Of his 14 statements evaluated on the Truth-O-Meter since 2010, six have been deemed Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.

I suppose that Mandel might have taken some comfort in the thought that things could hardly get worse...and he'd be wrong. It's hard not to laugh at the following:
In another desperate attempt by Josh Mandel to distract from the rampant absenteeism and cronyism that’s plagued his office, his latest misleading television ad touts a completely meaningless “award,” which he won from a practically defunct, right-wing interest group before he was treasurer.

In the new ad, Mandel’s campaign says that Josh was “named Watchdog of the Treasury,” a seemingly impressive accomplishment for the first term absentee treasurer.

Not so fast. The “Watchdog of the Treasury” mantle that Mandel eagerly touts was awarded by the United Conservatives of Ohio, a group of such low standing that it doesn’t even have a website (if a website does exist, ODP couldn’t find it). -- from the website of the Ohio Democratic Party

And who could fail to be impressed by Mandel channeling Gomer Pyle for the benefit of a crowd of Ohio coal miners:
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Set yorsef down an' have a pull on thisyere jug, son. So whut part of Kaintuck d'y'all say you wuh frum?

I'd say that Mandel's definitely got Huckleberry Hound's vote in the bag: cartoon votes for a cartoon candidate.

And the avalanche of fail just keeps burying Mandel up to his scrawny neck. According to an article in The New Republic, even Mandel's relatives don't like him and are voting for Brown:

...Mandel married into one of Ohio’s preeminent Jewish families, the Ratners—a Jewish clan so dynastic, the Cleveland Plain Dealer once published their family tree. But his extended family has been somewhat less than supportive; indeed the Ratners are longtime supporters and fundraisers for Democratic causes. Ronald Ratner, a cousin of (Mandel's wife) Ilana’s father and an executive for Forest City, the Ratner family’s national real estate company, hosted a lunch for Obama in his home last year that was attended by the vice president.

Dan Ratner, another cousin, works on the Obama campaign’s technology team. Michael Ratner, a human rights attorney in New York, is defending Julian Assange, and his brother, Bruce, the owner-developer of the Barclay Center arena—the new home to the Brooklyn Nets—has donated to his cousin in-law’s opponent’s campaign. In fact, according to FEC filings, as many as 19 members of the extended Ratner clan have poured close to $80,000 into Brown’s reelection.

The article ends with this little stinkbomb:
Ultimately, Mandel’s success or failure will have less to do with his family or his attendance at shul, and more to do with what comes out of his mouth. “He dresses nice. He makes a nice appearance,” (a) politically active Jewish voter told me. “So … I think, what a nice young boy he is! And then, of course, he talks about some issues, and then I think ‘oy yoi yoi.”
Oy yoi yoi, indeed.

The always excellent Joan McCarter documented Mandel's latest troubles in a diary on Wednesday. She led the piece with this video of our boy:
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Impressive, no? No? No, I guess not. I'll leave you with the following hilarious video, purporting to be out-takes from a Mandel political ad; it was made by Ohio comedian Mike Polk.

Kossack @JayRaye posted it in response to Joan's diary and it definitely deserves wider exposure:
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Currently Mandel, who reminds me irresistibly of the sneering asshole Reggie in the Archie comics, is losing. According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released early on Thursday, Brown has 52 percent to Mandel's 41 percent.

Long may the gap widen.

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