COLUMBUS -- Republican state Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel vowed May 8 to serve only two terms in Congress if he's successful in unseating Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown.
At a press conference near the Statehouse, Mandel signed a pledge promising to fight for the passage of an amendment to limit U.S. House members to three terms and senators to two.
But he said he would abide by term limits regardless of whether such efforts result in changes at the federal level.
"When I get to Washington, I'm going to fight tooth and nail to pass this constitutional amendment so term limits applies to everyone," Mandel said. "Even if we can't get it done though, I'm going to make sure that it applies to myself. I think it's important to lead by example I'm volunteering to apply it to myself."
Mandel signed an oversized pledge card supporting a proposed 12-year limit amendment backed the national group U.S. Term Limits. The latter's executive director, Nick Tomboulides, participated in Mandel's announcement.
"Congress too often puts its own self interests ahead of those it's elected to serve," Tomboulides said. "And as a result, we see tremendous dysfunction The career politician model of government has failed, and we need change. That is what term limits can deliver."
Mandel is the lone Republican candidate, to date, to launch a campaign to challenge Brown. It would be a repeat of their heated matchup of 2012 and one that would draw big campaign money from both sides to Ohio.
Mandel noted Brown's past support of term limits.
"He's been in Washington for 25 years," Mandel said. "I think voters are sick of politicians like Sherrod Brown and others who say one thing to the voters and then do something else. I also think they're sick of politicians like Sherrod Brown, who went to Washington to do good and then stayed in Washington to do well for himself, do well for his cronies, do well for lobbyist buddies. He got addicted to the trappings of the office, he got addicted to the black-tie dinners and the cocktail parties and forgot where he came from."
During a 2012 debate with Mandel, Brown said he was wrong in his earlier support of term limits.
But he added at the time, "When I'm opposed by somebody who in seven years has run for four different offices, who promised in 2010 that he would serve his four-year term as state treasurer, who then within weeks was flying off to places like the Bahamas to raise money from payday lenders, raising money for a Senate race ... he clearly has no regard for any of that."
Democrats slammed Mandel Monday, saying he broke a "pledge" of his own when he said he would be a full-time state treasurer, then ran against Brown.
They cited a video clip from an editorial board meeting of the former Dix newspaper chain (now owned by Gatehouse), when Mandel said, "Right now my plan is to be elected state treasurer, do a darn good job and then take it from there. I don't have any plans or visions beyond that It's be a good treasurer, definitely serve there for the first four years and likely run for reelection, but I'm not sure. A lot of that is going to be, I think, impacted by family situations as well There's a lot of other variables at play but [I] definitely want to be elected and serve for at least the full four years of the term."
"Immediately after being sworn in as treasurer, Josh Mandel broke his sham 2010 pledge and began campaigning for a new office, confirming that promise was just another of the many lies Josh would go on to tell Ohio" Jake Strassberger, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party said in a released statement.
Asked on Monday, Mandel said he did not recall pledging to remain as treasurer during his first campaign for that office, but he touted his work as treasurer to date, including the online checkbook initiative spearheaded under his administration.
"I'm planning right now to continue being the state treasurer," he said. "If you look at the record of the office, it speaks for itself I think we're running one of the preeminent state treasurer offices in America, really setting an example for how a state treasurer office should be run."
Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.