Club for Growth endorses Brown challenger in Ohio Senate race

The conservative Club for Growth PAC announced on Wednesday that it’s throwing its support behind Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel’s (R) Senate bid.

Mandel formally announced his candidacy earlier this month as he looks to unseat Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests | Amazon pauses police use of its facial recognition tech | FBI warns hackers are targeting mobile banking apps Democratic senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests Some realistic solutions for income inequality MORE (D-Ohio) in 2018. The Senate race will likely be one of the most closely watched races of the midterm elections.

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The group praised Mandel as “a model of pro-growth fiscal conservatism” in the state. Mandel, a Marine Corps veteran who served two tours in Iraq, is the first declared Senate challenger of 2018.

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“Josh’s efforts to cut taxes at the state and local levels, his opposition to Obamacare expansion in Ohio, and his work to make the Buckeye State the best in the country for transparency in state spending all show the credentials of a proven economic conservative who will fight for taxpayers in Washington,” president David McIntosh said in a statement.

In his announcement video, Mandel vowed to transfer the power from Washington back to Ohio and frequently referenced President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE’s promises to “drain the swamp” and fix “a rigged system.”

If Mandel advances from the primary, he will face Brown in a rematch. In 2012, the Ohio Democrat defeated Mandel by 6 points.

While Mandel has a head start in the GOP primary, including backing from Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Georgia officials launch investigation after election day chaos | Senate report finds Chinese telecom groups operated in US without proper oversight Republican Senators ask FCC to ‘clearly define’ when social media platforms should receive liability protections Trump’s tweet on protester sparks GOP backlash  MORE (R-Fl.) and conservative group FreedomWorks, other potential contenders are being floated. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) is seriously considering a bid and is a close ally to Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Rep. Jim Renacci  (R-Ohio) hasn’t ruled out a statewide run and state Sen.-elect Matt Huffman (R) recently told The Hill he’s been urged to run and will make a decision around June 2017.

Earlier this week, Club for Growth released an early poll it conducted showing Mandel with a wide lead in name recognition over Tiberi and Huffman.

The 2018 Senate map will be an uphill battle for Democrats as they defend 10 states carried by Trump in the November elections.

Brown will have a tough reelection race, defending his seat in a state that Trump won by 8 points.

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