Ohio Republican candidates bash Biden, question 2020 election, want border fence

Only one believes the 2020 presidential race was decided legitimately.

The seven Republicans running for U.S. Senate in Ohio are united in their belief that President Joe Biden is doing a bad job, and only one of them says Biden is the legitimate president.

The falsehood that former President Donald Trump was the true winner of the 2020 presidential election has dominated the Republican primary campaign for senate.

“The election in 2020 was stolen from Donald J. Trump,” said former Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel of Beachwood. “Even though Trump won Ohio, I guarantee you he won by a higher margin than was even reported.”

The other Republican primary candidates who cite a raft of debunked theories in saying the election was stolen are businessman Mike Gibbons of Fairview Park, businessman Neil Patel of Westerville, businessman Mark Pukita of Dublin, and author and businessman J.D. Vance of Cincinnati.

Jane Timken, former Ohio Republican Party chair, called for more investigations of the election.

“There’s no doubt in my mind there were irregularities and fraud in the 2020 election,” said Timken of Canton.

Multiple investigations, election audits and court rulings nationwide, along with Trump’s then-Attorney General William Barr, found no evidence of widespread fraud or election problems. Congress certified Biden’s win hours after Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, assaulted the U.S. Capitol and fought police in an effort to stop it.

“The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history,” according to a statement issued Nov. 12, 2020, by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

One candidate, state Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, said Biden was legitimately elected.

“My opponents want to trample all over the constitution,” Dolan said.

Immigration is another big issue for the Republican candidates, all saying they want to build a wall at the southwestern border to keep out immigrants and drugs.

The candidates blame Biden for inflation and criticize his energy policies and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some criticize his handling of the war in Ukraine, but all support humanitarian and military aid the U.S. is providing and oppose sending troops.

The candidates in the Democratic primary are attorney Morgan Harper of Columbus, businesswoman Traci “TJ” Johnson of Hilliard and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland Twp. in Trumbull County. A story about them was published in this newspaper April 10.

The winner of each party primary on May 3 will face off on Nov. 8 to fill the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who is retiring.

Here is a look at the Republican candidates.

Name: Matt Dolan
Age: 57
Address: Chagrin Falls
Education: Juris Doctor-Case Western Reserve University School of Law; Bachelor of Arts-Boston College
Family: Married, two adult sons
Current Employment:Ohio state senator; partner in Thrasher, Dinsmore, & Dolan, owner, with family of Cleveland Baseball Company, vice president, 7th Avenue Properties
Political Experience:Ohio state senator 2017-present; Ohio state representative 2005-2010
Political Party:Republican

Matt Dolan

Dolan said he stands out in the race as the candidate who is looking forward, offering positive plans for improving the country.

“My opponents are focused on the past and running negative campaigns because they cannot point to a record of accomplishment for Ohio. I’m proud of my conservative, results-oriented record and what I have been able to achieve to make Ohio a better place to live, work and raise a family,” Dolan said.

As chair of the Ohio Senate finance committee, he oversaw passage of three Ohio budgets, and supported tax cuts for businesses and families, and funding for law enforcement, Dolan said.

His top campaign priorities are ensuring safe communities, financial security for families, a secure national border and international security.

“The U.S. should further commit ourselves to the expansion and modernization of our own national defense capabilities to send a message to bad actors, such as China, that we will not hesitate to provide defensive supplies and weaponry to other stable democracies,” Dolan said. “I also support the United States joining with our European allies to accept a limited number of vetted Ukrainian refugees.”

His business experience shows him how burdensome taxes and regulations can be, said Dolan, who has a law firm and, with his family, owns the Cleveland Baseball Co. that owns the Cleveland Guardians.

Dolan supported new workforce development programs in Ohio and wants federal Pell Grants to cover equipment used by people learning skilled trades, such as welding.

Dolan faced criticism from other candidates for his law firm, Thrasher, Dinsmore, & Dolan, accepting a $620,852 grant from the Paycheck Protection Program that was part of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

He said the money paid secretaries and staff, not the law partners, during pandemic-related disruptions. While Dolan said he would have voted for CARES, he believes subsequent pandemic relief bills approved under both Trump and Biden “are likely to have fueled inflation and added unnecessarily to the national debt.”

Name: Mike Gibbons
Age: 70
Address: Fairview Park
Education: Degrees from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Case Western Reserve University and Kenyon College
Family: Married, five adult children, five grandchildren
Current Employment:Managing Director of Brown Gibbons Lang and Co
Political Experience:None
Political Party:Republican

Mike Gibbons

Gibbons was criticized by some opponents over comments about taxes and his company’s acceptance of a $1,532,686 PPP federal grant.

Gibbons, who opposed CARES, said his investment banking firm, Brown Gibbons Lang & Co. LLC of Cleveland, accepted the money to pay employees during the pandemic shutdown.

He is also taking heat for comments he made last fall during an episode of “The Landscape” podcast by Crain’s Cleveland Business.

“The top 20% of earners in the United States pay 82% of federal income tax — and, if you do the math, and 45% to 50% don’t pay any income tax, you can see the middle class is not really paying any kind of a fair share, depending on how you want to define it,” Gibbons said, according to the Associated Press.

Last week Gibbons said he grew up watching his family struggle to make ends meet.

“I do not support any kind of tax hike on any American and never have. I have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to assure voters that I’m 100% against increasing taxes of any kind,” Gibbons said. “We need to put America first and implement conservative strategies to fix the economy.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Taxes are too high, Gibbons said, and he wants to cut “unnecessary spending,” including abolishing the U.S. Department of Education. Schools are teaching “a new religion called ‘wokeism’ and I want to defeat it,” he said.

Pointing to high inflation and the $30 trillion national debt, Gibbons contended the U.S. economy is broken, despite positive economic indicators such as 11 months of job growth and unemployment at a pandemic low. He blames Biden monetary policy and money spent on COVID-19 relief.

Gibbons opposes federal funding for COVID-19 vaccines, testing and therapeutics, except for people who can’t afford them.

“I don’t, quite frankly, believe the government should be involved in health care,” Gibbons said.

Name: Josh Mandel
Age: 44
Address: Beachwood
Education: Juris Doctor-Case Western Reserve University; Bachelor's degree-Ohio State University
Family: Divorced, three children
Current Employment:Self-employed in finance
Political Experience:Ohio Treasurer 2011-2018; Ohio House of Representatives, 2007-2011; Lyndhurst City Council
Political Party:Republican

Josh Mandel

Mandel said he wants to make federal government spending more transparent, much as he did as Ohio treasurer when he started the online state spending website OhioCheckbook.com.

“What helps with controlling spending is shining some light on the spenders. And so by putting the state’s checkbook online, we were able to smoke out a lot of the cockroach politicians and cockroach bureaucrats who like to waste our money or stuff our tax money in their pockets,” Mandel said. “When I get to Washington, I’m going to make the cockroach politicians and bureaucrats squirm there as well.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

He opposes the bipartisan infrastructure bill approved last year, and said he would reverse “reckless spending” and end earmarks.

Mandel calls himself a “fighter” and the real “America first” candidate.

“It means putting American citizens and American taxpayers ahead of foreigners, it means deporting the illegal aliens who have snuck into this country and are felons. It means doing everything we can to fight to protect American jobs and bring our jobs back from China,” he said.

“Unfortunately under Biden the military has become weak, the military has become woke and the Chinese Communist Party laughs at us,” said Mandel, who spent eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

He said his priorities are stopping abortion and protecting the right to own firearms.

“I believe our gun rights are given from God. We are blessed with the Second Amendment in order to combat tyranny from the government,” Mandel said.

A third priority is “protecting the Judeo-Christian bedrock of America,” Mandel said. “I believe the secular left is trying to take God out of all aspects of American society.”

He wants to instill religious faith in America’s schools and workplaces.

“We should encourage business leaders and companies to have prayer in the workplace and have God in the workplace,” Mandel said.

Name: Niranjan "Neil" Patel
Age: 67
Address: Westerville
Education: Business degree-Gujarat University in Ahmedabad, India
Family: Wife, three adult daughters, one adult son, one grandchild
Current Employment:Owner Ganpati, Inc., which operates Econolodge in Zanesville; financial advisor at New York Life Insurance Co.
Political Experience:None
Political Party:Republican
Website:Website: neilpatelforussenate.com

Neil Patel

Patel previously ran for state senate as a Democrat, but said he switched to the Republican Party because of his conservative beliefs. He said he is pro life, pro gun, pro family and pro education.

His top priority is to help veterans, especially those who are homeless. He would shift existing funding for foreign aid to pay for new veterans programs.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Patel also wants more funding for workforce development, believes there should be some federal student loan forgiveness and that the interest rate should be lower for those loans.

“That is not right for our future generations,” Patel said. “They should not pay higher than the mortgage for their house.”

He also wants to lower health care costs for the elderly, but said he is not sure how he would do that. He said the government should only fund additional COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and testing if there is another surge.

His Ganpati Inc., which operates an Econolodge in Zanesville, accepted a $10,055 PPP grant to pay his staff after he lost 90-95% of business to the pandemic.

Patel, who immigrated from India in his 20s and became a U.S. citizen in 1994, supports immigration reform. He wants to expand immigration courts to speed up cases, and supports a path to residency for the 11 million immigrants in the U.S. who lack documentation.

Name: Mark Pukita
Age: 63
Address: Dublin
Education: No answer
Family: No answer
Current Employment:Owner Fast Switch Ltd. in Dublin.
Political Experience:No answer
Political Party:Republican

Mark Pukita

Pukita did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Credit: Joshua A. Bickel/Ohio Debate Com

Credit: Joshua A. Bickel/Ohio Debate Com

In a March debate he denounced “profligate” government spending, called for moving U.S. troops from Europe to somewhere closer to China, and said “natural rights” flow from God and the U.S. Constitution.

His Fast Switch Ltd., information technology and health care services recruiting company in Dublin, accepted a $1,355,136 PPP grant.

Name: Jane Timken
Age: 55
Address: Canton
Education: Juris Doctor-The American University Washington College of Law; undergraduate degree Harvard College
Family: Married, two children
Current Employment:Attorney
Political Experience:Former Chair of the Ohio Republican Party from 2017-2021; Former Vice Chair of the Stark County Republican Party
Political Party:Republican
Website:Website: www.janetimkenforohio.com

Jane Timken

Timken says she is the true “America first” candidate, noting that Trump endorsed her as party chair in 2017.

“In the Senate, I will revive our economy by putting a stop to Joe Biden’s job-killing regulations and runaway inflation, voting to lower taxes for families and small businesses, and opposing any COVID mandates that hurt employers and workers,” Timken said.

She said her platform is “American jobs, border security, parents rights and education, and energy independence.”

Timken called for “taking back the classroom,” more school choice and downsizing the department of education. She believes schools are “indoctrinating” children and teaching them they are racists.

She wants to combat opioid addiction by funding more treatment and stopping drugs from coming over the border.

Timken also said the U.S. has been soft on China, which she said steals America’s intellectual property, manipulates trade and has an alliance with Russia. She said Timken Company, the Canton firm founded by her husband’s family, does have interests in China but she is not involved in the company’s operations. Timken and her husband, Tim, own corporate securities stocks in the company and TimkenSteel Corp., which was spun off in 2014, according to her financial disclosure form.

Timken blames the Democrats for the national debt, even though it grew over the years under the leadership of both parties and was boosted recently by the 2017 tax cuts and spending increases approved by Trump and by the COVID-19 relief bills signed by both Trump and Biden.

“I’m going to be a fiscal conservative and a budget hawk,” Timken said.

Name: J.D. Vance
Age: 37
Address: Cincinnati
Education: Juris Doctor-Yale Law School; Bachelor's degree-The Ohio State University
Family: Wife, 3 children
Current Employment:Co-Founder of Narya venture capital firm in Cincinnati
Political Experience:None
Political Party:Republican

J.D. Vance

Vance is a Middletown native who on Friday won the endorsement of Trump.

Vance, whose book “Hillbilly Elegy” discusses growing up there and the impact of his mother’s battle with addiction, said stopping drugs coming to the U.S. is his top priority, and he wants drug cartels declared terrorist organizations.

He said the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a tragic situation, but it is distracting U.S. leaders, and that any further aid to Ukraine should be paired with an equal amount of funding to address immigration and drug smuggling at the southern border.

Vance said tech businesses take advantage of H-1B visas to hire immigrants and undercut American wages.

“The problem with expanding immigration in order to solve the labor shortage is it is at best a short-term solution to the problem,” said Vance. “I really think we need to make sure American jobs go to American workers.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

He thinks enough money goes to post-secondary education but the focus needs to shift.

“We should be spending less on college and more on vocational education,” Vance said.

He said the labor shortage should be addressed by cutting unemployment compensation.

“There are still a lot of people who got on unemployment and are still on unemployment and not because we have a global pandemic that justifies staying at home, but because that sort of becomes a habit for people,” Vance said. “Of course you have people that are down on their luck, but people that can work should be working.”

Experts say many women have not returned to the workforce due to lack of access to affordable quality child care. But Vance opposes Biden’s plan to subsidize child care and offer free universal preschool.

“The government should avoid choosing family models to subsidize at the expense of and over other family models,” he said.

Vance also called for an end to subsidies for COVID-19 vaccines, testing and therapeutics, which he said can be covered under existing health care insurance programs.

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