Exclusive — Ohio Senate Candidate Josh Mandel Presses Governor DeWine to End Mask Mandate, Reopen Ohio Entirely

With his wife Ilana at his side, U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel gives his concession speech on election night in Columbus, Ohio. November 6, 2012. He was defeated by Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. (AP Photo/Mike Munden)
AP Photo/Mike Munden

Former Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate next year, told Breitbart News exclusively he is calling on Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to cut the nonsense, end his state’s mask mandate, and reopen Ohio entirely right now. What’s more, Breitbart News can also exclusively reveal a lengthy statement from DeWine’s office responding to Mandel’s criticisms and defending the mask mandate and continued restrictions in Ohio.

“I’m calling on Gov. DeWine to fully open Ohio,” Mandel said in a phone interview. “That means removing the statewide mask mandate, removing all restrictions on businesses, and require that all schools open for in-person instruction.”

Mandel, who issued a press release earlier on Wednesday and was even more scathing in his interview with Breitbart News, lit into DeWine—a fellow Republican—claiming DeWine is not following science but instead caving to a woke leftist mob of politically correct Democrats, and his refusal to open the state entirely and ditch the masks like other Republican governors have is an encroachment on Ohioans’ freedom. Mandel said DeWine’s actions empowered large multinational corporate conglomerates engaged in cancel culture while they penalized small businesses and families in Ohio.

“What Gov. DeWine did was trample on the freedoms and liberties of everyday Ohioans,” Mandel, who recently spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, told Breitbart News. “He and the health director Amy Acton, who saw herself as like a mini-Fauci, their numbers and predictions were dead wrong. They used faulty numbers and bad math to completely trample on the freedoms and liberties of moms, dads, and Ohio small business owners. One of the things they did that made my blood boil was they shut down family-owned small businesses but allowed these woke politically correct conglomerates like Target and Walmart and Costco to stay open. In my mind, the companies like Target, Walmart, and Costco—who are embracing cancel culture, embracing wokeness, and sticking it to the little guy—they’re the enemy. We as conservatives, we should be standing up for small business owners and moms and dads, not these multinational conglomerates who are trying to jam political correctness and wokeness and cancel culture down our throats. On top of that, the far left purports to care about black lives and racial injustice, but in my mind the greatest racial injustice of our lifetimes is going on right now, where the politicians, bureaucrats, and teachers unions won’t let inner city kids go back to school. In our urban areas in Ohio and throughout the country there is unfortunately a higher percentage of fatherless households and a lot of single moms in these areas are working extra hard to be fantastic parents and put food on the table and these DeWine shutdowns screwed them over the worst.”

Mandel also said that the lockdowns and shutdown and mandates across America the past year have been “all about power” and not about science or public health, as he noted that many of the models on the pandemic that public health officials nationally and in various states have used to craft policy have proven incorrect.

“They [the lockdowns and mandates] were all about politicians and faceless bureaucrats exercising power over the people,” Mandel said. “The way the framers of the Constitution envisioned America was a nation in which government would be limited in size and scope and the citizenry would have power over the government. Unfortunately, people like squishy establishment Republicans like Mike DeWine and others flipped that upside down and they took the big hand of government and invaded the liberties and freedoms we enjoy as Americans. On the math, this Amy Acton lady—she was like the Fauci of Ohio, the mini-Fauci. Her numbers were not even in the ballpark of accurate, but that did not stop the media and the politicians in Ohio from trotting her out to be a hero. They made her out to be a hero. In reality, she was a complete failure and she was dead wrong and DeWine based his shutdowns on her bad math.”

Mandel’s criticisms of DeWine come as states like Texas and Mississippi join a dozen plus others with announcements this week they are abandoning mask mandates entirely and moving to reopen their states’ economies 100 percent with no public health restrictions. Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi made their announcements earlier this week and join a slew of other states nationwide—all led by Republicans—in ditching the mask mandates and lockdowns. The other states, including South Dakota and Florida—whose governors, respectively Kristi Noem and Ron DeSantis, have commanded tons of media attention for resisting lockdown pressure—have fared about as well as any state with onerous restrictions. According to reports from establishment media outlets, though, the moves by Texas and Mississippi surprised Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration, angering the newly elected president for their open willingness to flout his recommendations this early into his term.

Biden had been calling for Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days. But now, less than halfway into that, several states are openly defying Biden—essentially defenestrating the president and his authority, demonstrating his fecklessness. As Breitbart News reported earlier on Wednesday, Alabama is expected to join the charge next, and establishment media outlets predict more GOP governors around the country will undercut Biden in the coming days and weeks.

Biden, in response, lambasted the two states—Mississippi and Texas—that did not vote for him in the presidential election in November as following “Neanderthal thinking.” Biden accusing his political opponents and critics of being primitive and subhuman has not helped his cause, as Alabama sources told Breitbart News that the governor’s move to lift the state’s mask mandate—expected at a Thursday press conference—is in large part because of Biden’s disrespect for American voters.

Nonetheless, more establishment-leaning GOP governors like Ohio’s DeWine are caught in the middle trying to defend highly unpopular–and frankly questionable-at-best in terms of effectiveness–policies like economic restrictions and mask mandates while Biden accuses other Republicans of being Neanderthals.

In a lengthy response to Mandel—and to Biden’s Neanderthal comment—sent to Breitbart News on Wednesday afternoon, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney claimed the state is keeping its restrictions in place until more Ohioans get vaccinated.

“Ohio’s goal is to save as many lives as possible while we distribute vaccine to those who want it,” Tierney said. “We are moving closer to a stage where, when all Ohioans who want a vaccine can get one, it will be the vaccine stopping the virus spreading instead of mitigation efforts such as masks and social distancing stopping the virus from spreading. Until we hit that critical mass of vaccinations, we need to keep up COVID mitigation protocols to stop the virus from spreading and infecting those who could die from the virus before they can get a vaccine if they want one. The good news is that we keep getting great news on vaccine supply. Pfizer and Moderna are ramping up production; Johnson and Johnson is now available, and they have announced an additional manufacturing partner to help produce more of their vaccine. There is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of hitting that critical mass of vaccinations, but we are not there yet, and we have not progressed far enough into the vaccination phases to know exactly when we will hit that point. As we get closer to offering vaccines to any Ohio who wants one, we will be closer to knowing what dates this might be. Until then, we need to keep using masks and social distancing to prevent the virus from spreading until we get to the point where it is the vaccine stopping the virus from spreading.”

Tierney’s statement also criticized Texas for previously setting capacity limits on restaurants, and also claimed that Ohio never closed churches or houses of worship at all.

“I will also add that Ohio has been a leader in opening early after the White House’s and CDC’s stay at home period last year. Despite assertions to the contrary, Ohio never closed churches or houses of worship,” Tierney said. “Unlike Texas, Ohio never set capacity percentage limits upon restaurants; restaurants can accommodate as many customers as can be socially distanced amongst parties. Ohio has been a leader in returning K-12 students to in-classroom learning opportunities. Ohio’s economy is recovering, and unemployment is going down, and this is in part to keeping the spread of the virus low. Wearing masks and social distancing is helping keep the virus low and protecting not only Ohioans, but Ohio’s economy.”

Nonetheless, the building anger against restrictions and mandates is clear, and people like Mandel are demanding that DeWine change to reflect new information and approaches championed by other governors like DeSantis, Noem, Abbott, and Reeves.

“There are models around the country that Gov. DeWine could follow,” Mandel said. “I’m not even asking him to be a leader. I’m just asking him to be a follower and do what other states have done, and unfortunately he is following mini-Faucis around the country and liberal woke politically correct organizations instead of doing what’s best for the people in this state. If I were to look at a model governor who’s handled the shutdowns best, it’s Gov. Ron DeSantis down in Florida. While governors around the country were giving into the peer pressure and the groupthink, Gov. DeSantis had the guts to attack them, to stand up for what he thought was right, and at the end of the day the math and the economics proved out that he was in fact right. The liberal media hates facts. What the liberal media loves is hyperbole and sensation, but when you offer the liberal media facts, they start to hyperventilate and they get triggered. The facts are that Gov. DeSantis was the best governor in America on this issue and I also want to applaud what Gov. Abbott in Texas and Gov. Reeves in Mississippi did yesterday by opening up their states. I’m calling on Gov. DeWine today to do the same. Gov. Noem has been a real champion on this and I applaud Gov. Noem for being the tip of the spear and her leadership on this as well.”

What’s more, Mandel understands that what these other governors are doing is a deviation from what the Biden White House is pushing for—and he thinks DeWine needs to get with the program and follow suit. Mandel does not care what Biden is saying or advocating for, and he thinks Biden is a mess not worth listening to.

“I think Biden is lost in the sauce,” Mandel said. “He is listening to horrible advice based on bad math with complete disregard to our constitutional freedoms and liberties. It gets me motivated and charged up to see governors like Kristi Noem and Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis and Tate Reeves really leading the charge to take on the Biden Administration on this. Unfortunately here in Ohio we have this squishy establishment governor in DeWine who’s acting like Biden instead of acting like a conservative. Listen, when Republicans act like Democrats, I always lead the charge to take them on, because there’s no room in the Republican Party for establishment squishes.”

Mandel is one of several GOP U.S. Senate candidates in Ohio next year for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). The other major declared candidate at this time is former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken, but businessman Mike Gibbons and author J.D. Vance are reportedly considering bid, as well as possibly several members of the Ohio GOP congressional delegation. A recent Axios report noted that Timken almost had received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, but Trump ended up decided to hold off on backing her for now and let the primary process play out a bit.

Mandel, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2012 against Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)—and was again briefly a candidate against Brown in 2018 but dropped out of the race in the primary—is clearly trying to position himself as a hard-charging conservative against the GOP establishment that undermined Trump.

“As state Treasurer, I was John Kasich’s worst nightmare,” Mandel told Breitbart News. “When Kasich was acting like a Democrat on Obamacare, Common Core, and taxes, I took him on, and I was the lead combatant in trying to stop him from jamming those liberal policies down our throats. I’m doing that now with Gov. DeWine. It’s not lost on me that Gov. DeWine is not happy with me. But I don’t care. The reason I’m running for the U.S. Senate is to stand up for the freedoms and liberties of individuals, not to make friends in Columbus or Washington.”


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