CLEVELAND — Josh Mandel, the former Ohio State Treasurer who is running for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2022, released his first television ad Monday morning.

What You Need To Know

  • New Mandel ad discusses faith and his grandmother’s journey

  • This is Mandel’s first TV spot in the early stages of Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race

  • Mandel and former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken are competing for the Trump base

  • No Ohio Democrats have formally jumped into the race yet to succeed retiring Sen. Rob Portman 

Entitled "Faith," the 30-second ad explains part of his family’s history and the role religion plays in his life.

Following Sen. Rob Portman’s surprise announcement in January that he would not seek a third term in the U.S. Senate, the race to succeed Portman, R-Ohio, is already shaping up.

Mandel, a Republican, became the first candidate to jump into the race, kicking off his third bid for U.S. Senate after serving two terms as state treasurer. 

Former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken, a fellow Republican, is the only other candidate formally in the race so far. She has already released two TV ads — one that criticizes President Biden’s immigration policies and another that defends former President Trump’s agenda.

Notably, Mandel’s first ad, which will air in Ohio’s major media markets through Easter Sunday, makes no mention of Trump or any specific policies, despite Mandel campaigning on his support for the former president.

“This time of year, we celebrate that God is always in control. I’m Josh Mandel, and I personally know that’s true,” Mandel said in the new ad. “You see, my grandma was saved from the Nazis by a network of courageous Christians, who risked their lives to save hers. Without their faith, I’m not here today.”

In an interview with Spectrum News on Sunday, Mandel was asked what he says to observers who view the early days of his campaign, including this first ad, as light on policy.

“I think our campaign is policy-heavy on religious liberty and religious freedom and standing up for the Judeo-Christian values in which America was founded and grew strong,” said Mandel, who is Jewish and whose grandfather survived the Holocaust.

The early days of Mandel’s campaign have been spent making controversial statements about minorities, attacks about various Republicans, false statements about the science behind wearing masks to decrease the spread of COVID-19, and flattering comments about Trump.

Mandel’s Twitter account was briefly suspended after he tweeted out a poll that said, “Of the various types of illegals flooding across the border, will more crimes be committed by Muslim Terrorists or Mexican Gangbangers?”

He’s also tweeted about the need to “rise up against any efforts to strip and destroy our Constitutional rights” and to “revolt . . . rise up . . . defend our freedom” if Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine attempted to create digital certificates to indicate someone has been vaccinated for the coronavirus (something DeWine has not suggested). 

Asked how he squares this rhetoric with his ad about faith, Mandel told Spectrum News he feels it’s what Ohioans want.

“I think what Constitutional conservatives and men and women of faith throughout our country want is fighters,” Mandel said. “They don’t want wallflowers. They don’t want softness.”

So far, Mandel has received endorsements from faith-based organizations like Club for Growth and Ohio Value Voters, in addition to Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee.

Timken, who spent the last four years as chair of the Ohio GOP, has received several dozen endorsements from local, regional and state Republican leaders across Ohio.

A long list of other Ohio Republicans, including current Congressmen Bill Johnson (R, OH-6) and Steve Stivers (R, OH-15), investment banker Mike Gibbons, and author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance are considering entering the race.

On the Democratic side, no candidates have officially declared, but Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D, OH-13), and former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton are seriously considering running.