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Published: Monday, 10/4/2010

Tarnished image

Josh Mandel, whom The Blade endorsed last week for Ohio Treasurer, has discredited himself with a new TV campaign commercial designed to gain votes by playing on ignorance and fear. He needs to do better.

Mr. Mandel, a Republican, is challenging incumbent Democrat Kevin Boyce. He has raised valid questions about possible cronyism in Mr. Boyce's office. But the TV ad crosses the line between legitimate concern and fear-mongering.

The 30-second TV spot includes images of Mr. Boyce, who is African-American; a lobbyist who is Muslim and whose wife works in the treasurer's office, and a mosque. Over these images, a narrator says the job that went to the lobbyist's wife was announced only in “their mosque.” The intimation is clear.

Mr. Boyce is not a Muslim — not that his faith should matter any more than Mr. Mandel being Jewish should matter. But in post-9/11 America, faith does matter, at least to some people, and for the wrong reasons.

Mr. Mandel might consider the subtle forms of bigotry Jewish people continue to endure in this country and around the world. Then he might review his ad and his defense of it.

Campaigning by innuendo is distasteful and irresponsible. It suggests Ohio voters aren't capable of choosing between candidates based on issues. There's a whole lot of that going around this campaign season, from candidates of both parties.

Tapping into anger, fear, prejudice, and other emotions can be effective. But it's not the sort of campaign The Blade had in mind when it endorsed Mr. Mandel, even though we continue to believe for now that he is the better candidate overall.

Mr. Mandel should cancel his offensive campaign ad immediately. Meanwhile, he and all other candidates should remember that political support is not written in stone.



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