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Republican Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel shouted at Democratic rival Morgan Harper during an abortion rally last year in Ohio. "Baby killer!" he said.

Now, the two have agreed to face off in a debate Thursday night, even as they have their respective primary contests to focus on, and the unusual contest comes as Harper claims Rep.

Tim Ryan, her leading Democratic opponent, has refused to debate her.


"I would say she was more classy than I was," Mandel told the Washington Examiner of the abortion-related exchange he had with Harper. "Tim Ryan, who is the Pelosi lapdog congressman who's also running for Senate on the Democrat side, he's a marshmallow-handed wimp who's afraid to debate Morgan Harper, and I think we all know that if Morgan Harper was a white male, Tim Ryan would've already agreed to debate her. But because she's a black female, he's treating her like a second-class citizen and disrespecting her just like the Democrat Party does to black people throughout America."

A spokesperson for Ryan did not comment on Mandel's remarks. Harper told the Washington Examiner she can't speak to Ryan's motivations, but she expressed frustration that the representative has not taken up her offers for a debate.

There have already been several debates held on the Republican side of the race. The debate between Harper and Mandel will be live-streamed on Matter News at 7 p.m. Thursday. It will be moderated by Cassie Young from Matter News and Dan Wolvin from Awake America Ohio. Each moderator is intended to represent different ends of the political spectrum.

Morgan Harper and Josh Mandel. (AP Photos)

"I have been, since launching the campaign, requesting that both the state Democratic Party and my opponent in the Democratic primary host debates. We need to be out there, getting our message out, telling people why they should be supporting us come November," Harper told the Washington Examiner.

Mandel served as treasurer of Ohio from 2011 to 2019 and ran two unsuccessful campaigns against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2012 and in 2018. Harper is a lawyer and community leader. She ran for Congress in the 3rd District in 2020 but lost her primary election to Rep. Joyce Beatty.

The current race is for the seat held by Sen. Rob Portman, who announced last year he would not seek reelection.

Both Harper and Mandel come from dramatically different ends of the political spectrum. Harper is running to the left of Ryan in the Democratic primary, pushing policies such as "Medicare for All" and the Green New Deal. Mandel, by contrast, has made a name for himself for his staunch support of former President Donald Trump and the "America First" agenda. Mandel told the Washington Examiner that he disagrees with Harper on basically everything except Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that Harper suggested could provide good competition for U.S. banks.

He initiated the debate offer during their encounter at the abortion rally. After deliberation, Harper decided to accept. Harper has accused Mandel of peddling conspiracy theories, including about the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill. Mandel previously suggested the events of Jan. 6, 2021, may have come from "organized operations." Harper said the debate will be an opportunity for her to clear the air and present her ideas to the people of Ohio.

"The radical Republican Party and conservative movement have elevated and platformed Josh Mandel. I'm trying to stop him and serve the people of this state and solve actual problems," she said. "Looking at Josh Mandel's website, there just really aren't many policies or ideas. He's just really about sloganeering and peddling conspiracy theories, and so, I would say we don't have really anything in common."


Mandel said he is confident in his race and believes that he will become the Republican nominee for the Ohio Senate seat. He is facing a crowded field of contestants but has led some of the recent polling. Harper, by contrast, is widely considered to be the underdog in her race. The primary will take place on May 3. A spokeswoman for Ryan's campaign, Izzi Levy, told the Washington Examiner that he is fighting to ensure Mandel does not win the Senate seat.

“It doesn’t matter whether Josh Mandel is standing in a cornfield calling for armed insurrection or showcasing his out-of-touch anti-worker agenda on the debate stage. He’s wrong for Ohio and doesn’t belong anywhere near the U.S. Senate,” Levy told the Washington Examiner.

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Republican Mastriano to Face Democrat Shapiro for Pennsylvania Governor; Senate Race Too Close to Call

Pennsylvania Republicans on Tuesday gave State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) the nod to face state Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) in the race for governor this year.

The Democratic Party also nominated Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) for the Senate seat from which Republican Pat Toomey will retire at the end of 2022. At this writing, the GOP primary contest for that seat remains too close to call between top-tier candidates David McCormick and Mehmet Oz. 

Republican Carrie DelRosso and Democrat Austin Davis meanwhile clinched nominations for lieutenant governor. 

All three primary races were contested between GOP candidates, whereas Shapiro ran unopposed and Fetterman long enjoyed substantial polling leads against U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA-17) and long-shot State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia). 

Although the two parties’ state committees usually endorse hopefuls for these offices, Republicans decided against doing so in any of the three this year. Among Democrats’ contested races, their state party only endorsed Davis against State Representative Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia). 

Many Republican elected officials and county committees nonetheless weighed in on behalf of gubernatorial candidates, generally splitting between Mastriano’s three most popular rivals: former congressman and former Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, former Delaware County Councilman Dave White, and former federal prosecutor Bill McSwain. 

While Mastriano couldn’t boast a similar support base among Keystone State power brokers, he did tout his steadfast alignment with — and eventual endorsement from — former President Donald Trump. 

“It’s time for Pennsylvanians to unite, with the support of President Trump, and focus on defeating Josh Shapiro so we can revive our economy, achieve energy independence, lower taxes, restore law and order and reform our failing education system,” the state senator said in a statement. His current vote percentage is 42.48 versus Barletta’s 22.44.

Many right-leaning voices in Pennsylvania and beyond pressed a case against Mastriano that emphasized his reputation for intransigence in a state where an ability to appeal to moderates will be crucial. It remains to be seen whether the party can mend its rifts and unify behind Mastriano to execute a formidable campaign against Shapiro. 

Like Mastriano, Oz received Trump’s support for his own bid, though his reputation among the former chief executive’s supporters has been controversial owing to various policy shifts the candidate has made.

Whatever difficulties may or may not lie ahead for Republicans this year, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has registered optimism based on the progress the party has recently made in registering voters. According to the RNC’s communications office, registered Republicans have increased their ranks by 200,000 over the last two years, significantly eroding the Democrats’ registration advantage. 

To put GOP affiliation gains in further perspective, Democratic registration beat Republican registration by about 1.2 million voters 10 years ago. Now the gap is just over 550,000. 

Tuesday night also settled a number of contentious primary battles for U.S. Congress. In the southeast, Christian Nascimento clinched the Republican nod to challenge U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA-4), trouncing GOP primary opponent Dan Burton; and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick handily shut down fellow Republican Alex Entin’s bid from the congressman’s right. Fitzpatrick will face Democrat Ashley Ehasz in the fall. 

In the Chester-County-based 6th district, at this writing, GOP hopeful Guy Ciarrocchi is ahead in a four-way contest for the right to face Democratic incumbent Chrissy Houlihan. Slightly northward, in the Lehigh-Valley-based 7th district, the GOP primary between Kevin Dellicker and Lisa Jane Scheller remains too close to call. The victor will go up against Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Ward. 

In the state’s northeastern 8th district, Jim Bognet bested Michael Marsicano for the right to run against vulnerable Democratic incumbent Matt Cartwright. In central Pennsylvania’s 10th District, the battle between Democrats Richard Coplen and Shamaine Daniels remains uncertain. The winner will face Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry. 

In the Pittsburgh area’s 12th district, Steven Irwin and Summer Lee battle for the top spot in a crowded Democratic field to run against Republican candidate Michael Doyle. In the 17th district slightly northeast, Jeremy Shaffer beat fellow Republicans Jason Killmeyer and Kathleen Coder and thus will face Democrat Christopher Deluzio, who triumphed over Sean Meloy, this fall. 

– – –

Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Josh Shapiro” by Governor Tom Wolf. CC BY 2.0. Background Photo “Pennsylvania Capitol” by Kumar Appaiah. CC BY-SA 2.0.



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