Ohio GOP Senate forum turns into ‘slug fest’


By Karen Rase - [email protected]



Jane Timken, Josh Mandel and Matt Dolan (far right) listen to Mark Pukita during Monday’s debate.

Jane Timken, Josh Mandel and Matt Dolan (far right) listen to Mark Pukita during Monday’s debate.


Photos by Josh Bickel | Ohio Debate Commission Mike Gibbons makes a point while JD Vance looks on during Monday’s debate between Republican candidates for a U.S. Senate seat.


WILBERFORCE — It started out calmly enough but by the time the “credits rolled,” the seven candidates featured in the 2022 Ohio U.S. Senate Republican primary had all been figuratively “thrown under the bus” in one way or another.

Hundreds gathered Monday evening at Central State University’s Paul Robeson Cultural & Performing Arts Center for an evening of old-fashioned politics which showcased the pro’s and con’s of each candidate.

Karen Kasler, Ohio Public Radio and TV (Statehouse News Bureau chief) was the moderator, tasked with asking questions and keeping the candidates in check.

First in the lineup was J.D. Vance, known as a venture capitalist and author of the best selling book “Hillbilly Elegy.” The candidate took a lot of grief from his opponents for appearing to back former president Donald Trump when he has gone on record as referring to Trump as an “idiot” and worse. The former president still has not publicly endorsed any of the candidates. The Middletown native hopes to become the Republican nominee for retiring Sen. Rob Portman’s seat in the May 3 primary election.

Mike Gibbons, who was born in Cleveland and grew up in a working-class suburb of Parma, was televised (last week) getting into a heated exchange after former Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel accused the investment banker of “making billions” by moving Ohio businesses to China and owning stock in Chinese oil.

Gibbons denied the claims saying he personally didn’t buy the stock and told Mandel “you may not understand this because you’ve never been in the private sector in your entire life.” Mandel, who served in the Marine Corps Reserve, told Gibbons “two tours in Iraq, don’t tell me I haven’t worked.”

Gibbons, who has been endorsed by Rand Paul, was highly critical of President Biden’s “neglect and lax attitude” in regards to border patrol.

“Our president has basically said ‘come one, come all.’ But once they step on our soil, they are subject to due process,” said Gibbons, who has raised $12.1 million, the most of any candidates in the race, with almost all but $750,000 coming from his own personal wealth.

Jane Timken, a lawyer and former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, recently launched a statewide ad calling for the firing of Anthony Fauci, who has led the country’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic and claims to have put 150,000 miles on her car from campaigning across Ohio.

“I’m a mom (mother of two) on a mission to take our country back,” she said, adding that she calls herself ” Trump Tough.”

”I will put Ohio first — freedom, religion, and free speech,” Timken said. “As your next senator, I will fight for stronger borders, American jobs, and parents rights.”

Mandel said that “our country was founded on Judaeo-christian values/ethics” and to watch out for the “liberal media and secular left. I’m a fighter, I’m not afraid to take on Pelosi and Biden.”

Mandel said he believes the right to bear arms “comes from God, not government.”

State Sen. Matt Dolan, participated in last Friday’s candidate forum in Gahanna, hosted by right-leaning advocacy group Freedom Works. He’s an attorney and baseball team part-owner (the Cleveland Guardians) who campaigns for family values. He represents Ohio Senate’s 24th district which covers several outer suburbs of Cleveland within Cuyahoga County. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 2005-2010.

Mark Pukita, an IT entrepreneur living in Dublin seemingly had a sarcastic response for every question asked of the panel. Pukita thinks endorsements “are ridiculous” but claims to have a 21-point endorsement program.

Neil Patel, a lawyer, conservative political advisor, and publisher, was formerly the chief policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney. After leaving the vice president’s office, Patel partnered with Tucker Carlson to co-found The Daily Caller, a right-wing news and opinion website. Patel co-founded and is managing director of Bluebird Asset Management, a hedge fund focusing on mortgage-backed securities.

The winner of the Ohio Republican primary would be favored in the November general election in a state that Trump won by eight points in 2020. Although the primary is set for May 3, it could be pushed back because of congressional and state legislative re-districting maps which are still in dispute.

Jane Timken, Josh Mandel and Matt Dolan (far right) listen to Mark Pukita during Monday’s debate.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/03/web1_repub-1.jpgJane Timken, Josh Mandel and Matt Dolan (far right) listen to Mark Pukita during Monday’s debate.

Photos by Josh Bickel | Ohio Debate Commission Mike Gibbons makes a point while JD Vance looks on during Monday’s debate between Republican candidates for a U.S. Senate seat.
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/03/web1_repub-3.jpgPhotos by Josh Bickel | Ohio Debate Commission Mike Gibbons makes a point while JD Vance looks on during Monday’s debate between Republican candidates for a U.S. Senate seat.

By Karen Rase

[email protected]

Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.

Reach Karen Rase at 937-502-4534.