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Published: Thursday, 4/14/2011

Shooting star

Josh Mandel is a rising star in the Ohio Republican firmament. But unless he wants to risk flaming out in a brief burst of glory, he should consider developing a record of achievement in his new job before he sets his sights on the U.S. Senate.

This week, the 33-year-old State Treasurer — a post he has held since January — formed a committee to raise money for a potential run next year for the Senate seat held by freshman Democrat Sherrod Brown. State GOP leaders note that Mr. Mandel won more votes than any other candidate for statewide office in last November's general election.

But the former state representative still has a rather thin resumé to offer voters. Mr. Mandel was elected to Lyndhurst City Council in 2003. Three years later, before he completed his first council term, he won election to the 17th District seat in the Ohio House. In his four years there, he sponsored a handful of bills, none of which became law.

Last year, The Blade endorsed Mr. Mandel's successful campaign to unseat incumbent Democrat Kevin Boyce as treasurer. He expressed a willingness to cross party lines and had intriguing ideas about spurring job growth and providing incentives to keep Ohio's new college graduates from leaving the state.

But he tarnished his image with a distasteful campaign ad that tried to exploit anti-Muslim sentiment by intimating falsely that Mr. Boyce is Muslim. He also promised voters that if they elected him, he would serve a full four-year term.

In office for three months, Mr. Mandel hasn't had time to build a record as treasurer. Yet he already is listening to political operatives who care little about what he promised voters and less about whether he is prepared to be a U.S. senator.

They see an accomplished fund-raiser, a Marine Crops Reserve veteran who served two tours in Iraq, and a candidate who still would hold a state office if he lost to Mr. Brown.

Ohioans elected Mr. Mandel despite misgivings about his lack of experience. They gave him an important job to do at a time a time of great challenge for the state's economy. They expect him to be on the job, not to delegate it to aides so he can travel around the state to persuade voters to send him to Washington.

Mr. Mandel should ignore the siren song of political opportunism. If that call is too strong — or his ambition too great — he should step down as treasurer and devote his full energy to the campaign.

And if he does run, Mr. Mandel shouldn't promise voters he'll be Ohio's senator for six years. They might find it hard to believe him.

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