It’s a sticky afternoon in August and a storm is brewing. Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel is the featured speaker at a rally for Mike Wilson, who’s planning to run for the Ohio general assembly. We’re under a tent, but as the lightning flashes, the crowd eyes the wiring on the speaker system nervously. Still—Mandel is winning them over. When he tells his story, it’s clear he’s wasted no time getting things done.
Mandel looks maybe half of his 33 years, but he’s already accomplished more in his decade-long career in public service than many politicians have in a lifetime. He’s a Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Iraq. A former city councilman in Lyndhurst, a suburb of Cleveland, he led the fight for the first property tax rollback in the county’s history. As a state legislator, he won landslide victories in a heavily liberal district. When he ran for state treasurer, he got more votes than Governor John Kasich.
Now he’s set on unseating incumbent U.S. senator and prominent liberal Democrat Sherrod Brown. A career politician, Brown was in the Ohio House of Representatives before Mandel was born. And after 35 years at the top, Mandel says, Brown is out of touch.