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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel ripped his opponent, Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, as out of touch and opposed to the free-enterprise system in a speech to a Republican crowd Thursday night at the Holiday Inn French Quarter hotel in Perrysburg Township.
Mr. Mandel was followed by Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, who attacked his opponent in the 9th Congressional District contest, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) as the real enemy of labor and women.
Mr. Mandel and Mr. Wurzelbacher were among a series of speakers who mixed political rhetoric with some insight into their campaign plans and personal motivations in what amounted to singing to the political choir of about 120 at the annual banquet of the Greater Toledo Republican Club.
Mr. Mandel didn't linger to answer media questions, instead rushing out of the building through a service entrance while refusing to address a request for an interview from The Blade.
Mr. Mandel said he was running for office because of his concern with the direction of the country and because he said he was urged to do so by many people, often while out eating dinner with his wife or shopping.
He attacked Mr. Brown as out of sync with Americans who believe in free enterprise. He cited Mr. Brown's vote against the Keystone gas pipeline project from Canada, which he said offered 30,000 U.S. jobs.
"He's saying to the Canadians, 'partner with the Chinese instead of us.' Think of how twisted that is, how out of touch Sherrod Brown is," Mr. Mandel said.
"I believe in the free enterprise system. We should empower that in America, we should not punish it," he continued. "Sherrod Brown is one of the main people in Washington trying to vilify job creators. He and I just fundamentally disagree on whether the free-enterprise system is a good thing. I believe our economy is built on it. It seems to violate his sensibilities."
Asked for a response to that comment, Brown campaign spokesman Justin Barasky emailed, "Josh Mandel has pushed an anti-middle class, anti-job agenda by opposing the auto rescue, standing shoulder to shoulder with Governor [John] Kasich's attack on teachers, police officers, and firefighters, and refusing to stand up against China's illegal currency manipulation."
Mr. Mandel called Mr. Brown "the deciding vote" for the Affordable Care Act that most Republicans and conservatives call Obamacare, a term Mr. Mandel said he has stopped using in favor of "federal government takeover of health care."
"I call it what it is," he said.
Mr. Mandel devoted part of his speech to predicting that northwest Ohio could become a center for manufacturing parts for the burgeoning oil and gas exploration business.
"I have a vision to rejuvenate and restore the manufacturing greatness here in northwest Ohio … making component parts for oil and gas exploration … breathing new life into the heart of the Rust Belt," Mr. Mandel said.
Mr. Mandel was welcomed by the audience singing the Marine Corps Hymn, something that Mr. Mandel, a Marine Iraq War veteran, said was a first for him.
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The youthful-looking Mr. Mandel joked about his appearance, saying his political goal by the age of 35 was to start shaving.
He also boasted of his tenure as Ohio treasurer so far, saying the state has maintained the highest possible bond ratings, and that he has cut spending in the office while making it "one of the most effective, efficient" state treasurer's offices in the United States.
Mr. Mandel said his campaign against Mr. Brown is going "darned well" and claimed to have a poll showing him within five percentage points of beating Mr. Brown and leading him among independents.
"All the momentum, the trajectory is on my side," Mr. Mandel said.
Mr. Wurzelbacher vowed a tough campaign against Miss Kaptur in the 9th Congressional District, saying he would take advantage of votes cast during her nearly 30-year career.
Mr. Wurzelbacher said, "Democrats talk about the Republican war on women, when in reality it's the Democrats who perpetuate the war on women."
"She's been paying her female staffers $5,000 to $19,000 less than her male staffers," Mr. Wurzelbacher said. "And yet the Republicans are doing the war on women. It makes no sense." Mr. Wurzelbacher's campaign did not provide the names or the dollar amounts of the salaries of Kaptur staffers, but said the information they have came from their analysis of her congressional staff salaries over at 10 year period.
Mr. Wurzelbacher also cited Miss Kaptur's vote last week against a bill to ban sex-selective abortions.
"That's what China does right now and Marcy thinks that's OK," Mr. Wurzelbacher said.
He also accused Miss Kaptur of being "the anti-labor congressman" because he said the taxation and regulation policies she supports have driven jobs out of Ohio to other states.
"She likes to vote for the taxes and regulations that help destroy the auto industry," Mr. Wurzelbacher said.
Invited to respond, Kaptur spokesman Steve Fought said Republicans opposed a vote on a paycheck fairness bill, and sought a two-thirds vote on the gender-discrimination abortion bill rather than a simple majority.
"Republicans like Joe, the Faux Plumber, are more interested in playing politics with the abortion issue than serious legislation," Mr. Fought said.
The Kaptur campaign did not respond to specifics of the amounts her congressional office pays female staffers.
During his talk, Mr. Wurzelbacher called for tax reform such as the "fair tax," which would replace the progressive income tax system with a more flat tax. He said many in government prefer the income tax because "it all comes down to power; they like you in the palm of their hands."
The crowd also heard from John Marshall, the GOP candidate for Lucas County commissioner against incumbent Democrat Pete Gerken; Norm Witzler, the Republican candidate against Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, and Kenneth Phillips, the Republican running against Democratic Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart.
Mr. Marshall told the crowd he is a three-time cancer survivor. He said he would promote the use of natural gas to power trucks, buses, and airport vehicles.
"We need to work as a team. Lucas County has a great and vast work force. They need leadership. They need a change of industry. The natural gas industry will bring us that new industry," Mr. Marshall said.
The GOP club was formed in 1935 and draws most of its members from West Toledo, President Les Rupert said.
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.