Mandel says he’ll seek re-election in 2014

“The only thing I’m focused on right now is doing a good job in the treasurer’s office and re-election two years from now,” Mandel told the Dayton Daily News Wednesday, the day after losing his bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown. “I enjoy the job and feel like I’m making a difference.”

Mandel said he was proud of his campaign, which included stops at more than 125 Ohio small businesses and 413 grassroots events across the state. He came closer to unseating an incumbent senator than Republican George Voinovich did against Democrat Howard Metzenbaum in 1988 or Republican Mike DeWine against Democrat John Glenn in 1992. Both later went on to win Senate races.

“I feel we left it all on the field and from the beginning this was a David vs Goliath type fight and we got pretty close to knocking off a politician that’s been doing this for four decades,” Mandel said. “And, unfortunately, we came up short but feel we put forth every force of energy we could have.”

The final, unofficial tally from the Ohio Secretary of State was 50 percent for Brown and 45 percent for Mandel, with Independent candidate Scott Rupert garnering the remaining 5 percent. Brown had more than double the margin of victory that President Barack Obama had over Mitt Romney in Ohio.

Brown, who has run congressional, statehouse and statewide races, told reporters this year’s Senate race was the hardest of his career because of the amount of outside money involved.

Outside money dominated the race. Liberal and Democratic Party groups spent more than $12 million against Mandel, according to federal campaign records, while conservative super PACs and nonprofits spent upwards of $40 million against Brown. Republican strategist Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS spent $12 million on attack ads against the Democrat.

“Karl Rove had a bad night,” Brown said. “You could see his frustration. He couldn’t understand why his strategy didn’t work. Karl Rove doesn’t know Ohio as well as he thinks he does. He couldn’t bring himself to believe in the results.”

Brown said his win was a victory for the middle class and for fighting the secretly funded politicking that flooded 2012 congressional and presidential campaigns. Brown said he hopes his colleagues in Congress will see the need for campaign finance reform in the wake of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court Decision, which unleashed millions of political ad spending.

“I think voters will, in a funny sort of way, welcome beer ads, car ads and detergent ads,” Brown said.

In a speech to supporters late Tuesday night, Mandel said the campaign wasn’t the end of a fight, but the beginning.

“The issues I’m passionate about — like ensuring good job opportunities for middle class families and ensuring fiscal responsibility in government and high integrity in public service — these are issues I’ll continue representing, fighting for and thinking about every day when I wake up,” Mandel said.

After months of negative ads and a few heated debates laced with personal attacks, Brown and Mandel ended the campaign with one polite exchange.

In his congratulatory phone call to Brown Tuesday night, Mandel said he told the senator he respected him as a leader.