Mandel’s next big success was his election last year as state treasurer. He collected over 2 million votes — more than any other statewide office seeker, with the exception of Rob Portman, a Republican who won an open Senate seat. Mandel hasn’t had much time to develop a record in this post, though his office has maintained Ohio’s credit ratings, published the salaries of all state employees, and cut its own operating costs. He likes to talk about how he canceled plant-watering contracts, saving taxpayers $2,000.
Although Mandel has never lost a political race, he will discover that the 59-year-old Brown presents a tough challenge. Brown won election to the Senate in 2006, forcing out Republican moderate Mike DeWine. It was his third statewide victory, following a pair of wins in the 1980s, when he was Ohio’s secretary of state. (He ran for a third term in 1990 and lost.) From 1993 until he became a senator, Brown served in Congress, representing the Cleveland area. Earlier this year, National Journal rated Brown as one of ten “most liberal” senators. He voted for Obamacare, but not before expressing disappointment that it didn’t go far enough. He also supported stimulus spending and the Environmental Protection Agency’s bid to regulate greenhouse gases. “Brown is seasoned and he works really hard,” says Greg Lashutka, a former Republican mayor of Columbus and a Mandel supporter. “This will be a close race.”