Josh Mandel, one of the six Ohio Senate candidates who appeared on stage together for the first time on Sunday night, falsely claimed that the 2020 election was “stolen from Donald J. Trump” during a debate.
Mandel, the former Ohio treasurer, was met with applause from the crowd at the event held in evangelical Genoa Baptist Church, where he and the other GOP hopefuls—State Senator Matt Dolan, author J.D. Vance, former Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken, and businessmen Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno—were vying for the nomination.
“You know Matt said he would’ve voted to certify the election,” Mandel said while referring to Dolan, who is distancing himself from Trump during his campaign.
“And I need to say something that I get attacked by the media for saying this, I get attacked by my opponents for saying this, but I believe it very strongly and so I want to say it up here: I believe the election was stolen from Donald J. Trump,” Mandel added.
Mandel, who tweeted an image of a red “Make America Great Again” hat synonymous with Trump supporters ahead of the debate, pushed the so-called “Big Lie” that the former president lost the last election because of widespread voter fraud, despite no evidence showing this nearly one year since the vote took place.
Miranda Yaver, a political science professor at Oberlin College, was one of those who criticized Mandel for his comments.
“Josh Mandel is leading the polls in the Ohio Senate primary. Doubling down on the big lie should be disqualifying for holding office, but here in Ohio, it’s a requirement to be considered seriously by the Republican electorate,” Yaver tweeted.
Steven Mazie, Supreme Court correspondent for The Economist, added: “The applause is why he said it.
“An incredibly pernicious epistemological feedback loop between craven Republicans and their credulous flock.”
Elsewhere during the debate, Mandel declared that “there’s no such thing as separation of church and state” when asked what the biggest threat to schoolchildren is right now, adding that the country should be “instilling faith in the classroom, in the workplace, and everywhere in society.”
Mandel said that those who penned the Constitution envisioned a country where school children would be taught about God.
“That in the classroom, kids would learn about good vs. evil, and that Judeo-Christian ethic separates itself from Islam and atheism and all these other belief sets on so many levels,” he said, via Mediaite.
Ahead of the debate, Mandel tweeted that the country should “shut down government schools and put schools in churches and synagogues.”
Mandel, a Jewish man who has been holding events at evangelical churches throughout his campaign, also told the crowd that if elected he would go to Washington, D.C. with two documents as his guide.
“I’ll have the Bible in one hand and the Constitution in the other,” he said.
Mandel has been contacted for further comment.
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