It was somewhat surprising to the SCPR when in 2006 left-leaning Democrat Sherrod Brown defeated sitting United States Senator Mike DeWine (now Ohio's attorney general) who The Report takes as being conservative but certainly not right wing as in Tea Party right wing.
Of interest to yours truly in assessing what is likely to happen this year in the race between incumbent Brown and his opponent and Republican Josh Mandel is that in 2006 the results in the Brown/DeWine race in Stark County mirrored the statewide results.
The premise of this blog is that Stark County will be a bellweather of what will happen statewide in the face-off between Brown and Mandel.
A second premise is that each candidate in this year's election are on the political fringes (Brown highly rated by the liberal American Civil Liberties Union [87%] and Mandel a favorite of the Tea Party) of their respective political parties which will be difficult for many Stark Countians to abide because the bulk of Stark County voters be they Republican, Democrat or independent are centrists.
And The Report thinks that Ohio overall is centrist (perhaps a little right of center) and that both Brown and Mandel present as difficult choices for most Stark County voters as well as Ohio voters.
Because of the mirror image effect, the SCPR believes that as the race heads into its last 90 days that taking the pulse of Stark County will be indicative of what will be the result come November statewide.
So if the candidates want a local venue to go after each other, Stark County should be a primary battle ground.
First, looking at Brown his political history in terms of being an elected official goes back to 1975:
Next, look at Mandel electoral political history which only goes back to 2006:
An interesting thing to note about their "elected to office" history is that Mandel has demonstrated very little staying power. He had two terms in the Ohio House before running for and being elected as Ohio treasurer. He was treasurer for about a year before deciding to take Brown on in a U.S. Senate race this year.
As pointed out above, Sherrod Brown is a favorite of the American left. By some accounts he is the most liberal senator in the U.S. He rates very highly (95%) with the Americans for Democratic Action which describes its mission (in part) thusly:
Americans for Democratic Action has and will continue to be a forthright liberal voice of this nation. We work to advocate progressive stances on civil rights and liberties, social and economic justice, sensible foreign policy, and sustainable environmental policy.Mandel, on the other hand is a favorite of the Tea Party movement and has been endorsed by perhaps the most right wing reactionary senator in the U.S. Senate; namely, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.
The Tea Party which is almost exclusively aligned with a core group of Republican elected officials got started in 2009 as a protest movement against President Barack Obama and his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (February, 2009) which became law with only three Republicans (Specter - Pennsylvania, Snowe and Collins - Maine) supporting it.
One of the Koch brothers (favorite extreme right wing - conservative and very wealthy whipping boys of the American left) claims to have founded the movement, to wit:
David H. Koch, head of the conservative grassroots advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, has taken credit for launching the Tea Party protest idea, in coordination with FreedomWorks, another conservative advocacy group. (Source: About.com)Here is a YouTube interview of Mandel (by ONN) in which Mandel owns up to the Tea Party's and DeMint's endorsement as well as the Club for Growth:
How do Brown and Mandel stack up on the issues?
Here is one summary, which the SCPR believes is a pretty accurate, though a shorthand way to put forth their differences:
|Budget:||Supports Balanced Budget Amendment||Supports a five year spending freeze and a Balanced Budget Amendment.|
|Tax Policy:||Supports a simplified tax code with one or two tax brackets||Supports raising taxes for those earning over $1 million|
|Social Security:||No clear stance||Opposes cuts|
|Healthcare:||Opposes Obamacare||Supports health care reform|
|Medicare:||No clear stance||Opposes privatization|
|Abortion:||Opposes||Supports legal abortion|
|Gay Rights:||Opposes gay marriage||Supports gay marriage|
|Immigration:||No clear stance||Opposes comprehensive reform. Supported building a secure fence along the Mexican border.|
|Education:||Supports parents’ choice in schools and wants to expand charter school||Supports additional federal funding. Opposes vouchers for private schools|
|Energy Policy:||Supports energy independence and opposes irrational regulations on drilling and refining.||Supports energy independence through clean, renewable sources.|
|Iran:||Considers threat to democracy||Supports economic sanctions|
|Iraq:||Served two tours as a decorated United States Marine.||Opposed military intervention|
For many Stark Countians, the choice between Brown and Mandel is not a happy one. There is likely to be a lot of "nose-holding" as voters vote one way or the other.
But in any event, the Stark County Political Report believes that Stark County will be the best barometer of who is to come out of the race as the victor.