Election 2012: Brown faces Mandel and Rupert in Senate raceWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
To keep his seat, Sen. Sherrod Brown must defeat Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican, and Scott Rupert, an independent.
Brown, a Mansfield native, has been a senator since 2006 and represented the 13th District in the U.S. House from 1993-2007. He also served as a state representative from 1974-82 and as Ohio Secretary of State from 1983–91.
Rupert, a Sheffield Lake native, is a truck driver. He left trucking to study electronic engineering but he returned to the industry to drive his father’s truck after his father got sick with pancreatic cancer. His father died and although Rupert paid off the medical bills, his student loan bills came due so he continues to drive.
Mandel is an Iraq veteran and served as a state representative from 2007-10 before becoming treasurer in 2011. Mandel did not return repeated requests for comment.
Brown counts the auto industry rescue as a success during his term.
“All the Toledo-area manufacturers were in trouble and people thought their whole way of life was going to collapse,” he said. “We went to bat for them.”
Brown said his bipartisan jobs bill is another success.
The bill, the largest passed in the Senate last year, could create 2 million manufacturing jobs and level the playing field with China by combating subsidized imports, Brown said.
Brown is a proponent of green energy and said he’s worked with solar companies in Toledo. The senator also introduced the Program for Offshore Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2010, which requires the Department of Energy to come up with a plan for the deployment of offshore wind and increases incentives for offshore development.
Brown said he suspects that about $20 million donated from anonymous groups to Mandel’s campaign come from oil companies.
“We figure a lot of that’s oil money because the oil companies don’t like that I want to take away their tax breaks,” he said.
“If he’d win and get his way, you’d see more tax cuts for the rich and the middle class would shrink even more,” Brown said. “Like Romney, he wants to increase defense spending and cut taxes for the rich.”
Rupert said of his own campaign, “It’s good; everyone is very receptive to my message. The problem is I’m talking to very small audiences.”
The independent tried to run for elected office in 2010, but didn’t get enough signatures.
Of his opponents, Rupert said, “I’m not paying much attention to what either one of them is saying. I’m busy with my own campaign.”
“What I see in common is the same thing we always see, ‘Vote for me because I’m not the other guy.’ They define the other guy’s message instead of defining their own.”
“The most important thing is restoring the sovereignty of states,” he said of his own message. “If our states are not free of the abuse of our federal government, then the people aren’t free.”
Rupert also said Democrats and Republicans need to work together to resolve the national debt problem.
“We’re $16 trillion in debt and we’ll be $17 trillion in debt before Congress addresses it again,” he said, adding that the solutions are “too big for either box” of Republicans or Democrats.
The United States also needs to be more energy independent and can achieve that by drilling domestically, Rupert said. Still, he said he thinks it’s OK to get some oil from other countries, especially those with similar interests.
Like many candidates on the ballot this year, Rupert advocated for a consumption-based tax instead of an income tax.
“It’s not fair to any anyone, rich or poor, to incur a debt to the government simply by the act of working and the income tax does that,” he said.