Ohio Republican Senate candidates get in each others’ faces at debate

Two Republican candidates for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat got in each other’s faces on Friday night during a heated primary debate.

Ohio Senate candidates Josh Mandel and Mike Gibbons clashed during a GOP primary forum hosted by FreedomWorks and held outside of Columbus, a tense exchange that forced a moderator to pull the two apart.

A video shared on Twitter by Politico reporter Natalie Allison shows the exchange starting when Gibbons accuses Mandel of “never having worked in the private sector.”

Mandel stands up from his seat, walks over to a standing Gibbon and shouts in his face: “Two tours in Iraq, don’t tell me I haven’t worked!”

“You don’t know squat,” Gibbons responds before a moderator pulls the two apart.

Mandel is a former state treasurer, while Gibbons is an investment banker in the Cleveland area. Seven candidates are on the ballot in the Republican primary, including Ohio state Sen. Matt Dolan, former state GOP chair Jane Timken and venture capitalist J.D. Vance.

According to a Fox News poll in early March, Gibbons is leading the pack with 22 percent of voters backing him, while Mandel follows close behind with 20 percent of voters.

After the debate, a straw poll of about 400 voters at the forum showed majority support for Vance, who won about 43 percent of the vote, while Timken earned second place with about 20 percent of the vote.

Gibbons notched 16 percent and Mandel 4.6 percent in the straw poll.

In an interview with Steve Bannon after the forum, Vance said Mandel and Gibbons “completely made clowns of themselves.”

“It was just a joke, it made everyone look terrible, honestly,” he said.

Gibbons released a statement on Friday night accusing Mandel of becoming physically aggressive and making false statements against him.
Samantha Cotten, a spokesperson for Gibbons, said Mandel “doesn’t have the temperament, experience, or fortitude to be a U.S. Senator and Ohio voters got a first-hand look at just how unprepared Josh Mandel has become and that will be reflected on the ballot on May 3.”
The Hill has reached out to Mandel for comment.
After Friday night’s row, the Ohio Democratic Party released a statement referring to the GOP senate primary race as a “cavalcade of clowns.”
“We encourage every voter to watch this forum and see for themselves why these Republicans do not deserve to be in the United States Senate,” said spokesperson Michael Beyer.
The primary is scheduled for May 3 but may be delayed after the state’s Supreme Court for the third time rejected a proposed redistricting map.
Updated: March 19, 2022, 11:44 a.m.
Tags josh mandel Mike Gibbons Ohio Ohio Republicans Primary debate Steve Bannon

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video