If things continue apace, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is set to become the official Republican nominee for the state’s open Senate seat, which is being vacated by departing Sen. Rob Portman. Mandel, a one-time state representative, currently enjoys a healthy lead over elegiac hillbilly J.D. Vance, which is ostensibly a good thing because Vance is a disingenuous weirdo who sticks his neck out for teenage killers and white supremacists. It’s also objectively a bad thing because, as it just so happens, Mandel is equally contemptible, albeit without Vance’s laughably incongruous “I’m just an everyday normal guy but also a gazillionaire techbro” shtick.
No, Mandel is a slightly different flavor of awful, albeit one that leaves a comparably doodoo taste in one’s mouth — especially after his recent Navy special ops visit to a New York City Cheesecake factory.
But while Mandel’s clandestine visit to Ohio’s must-win district of **checks notes** Queens, New York, could theoretically be written off as a campaign stunt suffering from a crippling GPS malfunction, I’m admittedly having a harder time drawing a logical through-line between the disparate points of his more recent, oh-so-serious Twitter proclamation:
God! Family! Bitcoin!
The truth is, Mandel’s promise to turn Ohio into a theocratic beep-boop state is, in no small part, a fairly decent encapsulation of a large swath of America’s modern conservative movement itself. There’s an overt pitch toward right-wing religious exceptionalism (while Mandel himself is Jewish, his rhetoric is unmistakably reminiscent of evangelical Christianity) which quickly pivots toward a fiscal pyramid scheme.
The greater irony here is that this trifecta of faith, family, and sketchy digital finance is exactly the sort of thing that would theoretically make Mandel the perfect candidate for none other than J.D. Vance, a wealthy tech venture capitalist whose name recognition stems largely from his (poverty porn) family memoirs, and who recently affirmed his turn to observant Catholicism. Luckily for Vance, Mandel has maintained a sizable lead in the GOP primary polls for a while now, suggesting that if nothing changes by this spring, Vance will be able to cast a vote for Mandel to represent him in the United States Senate. How nice for J.D., and how unfortunate for the rest of us.