Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Brown sweeps Ohio newspaper endorsements; papers call Mandel unprepared, and worse

Well, this doesn't happen too often.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has won the endorsement of every major daily newspaper in Ohio, shutting out Josh Mandel 7-0. Even the conservative editorial pages couldn't justify endorsing the senator's young challenger.

"Sherrod Brown has a record of working for Ohio jobs, workers, businesses and consumers," argues the Cincinnati Enquirer, which endorsed Mitt Romney for president. The Akron Beacon Journal, endorsing Brown for the first time, praises his "attention to what matters for Ohioans, from manufacturing and jobs to health care and farming."

Every editorial page -- from progressive (the Toledo Blade) to conservative (the Columbus Dispatch) to centrist pages that didn't endorse Brown in 2006 (The Plain Dealer) -- praised the senator's work in his first term.

But most striking is what the seven papers say about Mandel. Let's line them up to see the trend.

Akron Beacon Journal: "He isn’t ready for the job. It is apparent in his shallow positions, mostly the usual talking points of the far right. ... an ill-prepared candidate overmatched by his opponent."

Youngstown Vindicator: "Imaginary outsiders will say whatever they think the voters want to hear. If there were a dictionary entry for such political mendacity, it could carry the picture of Josh Mandel."

Plain Dealer: "Electing ... Josh Mandel would reward one of the nastiest campaigns ever waged in this state. It would reward a candidate who hasn't moved beyond partisan slogans and careful sound bites. It would reward ambition untethered to substance."

Toledo Blade: "Mr. Mandel has largely ignored basic duties of the treasurer. ... His stances on major issues rarely go beyond simple partisan slogans — Obamacare, bad; regulation, bad; tax cuts, good. ... Mr. Mandel has waged an unusually nasty campaign. Independent fact-checkers have cited him repeatedly for making false statements."

Canton Repository: "Mandel has plenty of sound bites — how many ways can a TV ad say 'Washington is broken'? — but offers little of substance. His calling Brown a liar in another recent debate was another low in a campaign chock full of lows — a campaign marked, ironically, by Mandel’s collecting numerous 'pants on fire' ratings from the PolitiFact fact-checkers."

Cincinnati Enquirer: "Mandel would continue to practice the politics of divisiveness. His campaign has focused on tearing down his opponent, calling him everything from a 'un-American' to 'a liar.' Mandel’s slash-and-burn campaign has been heavily funded by out-of-state interests. ... He showed little depth on the issues beyond his rehearsed talking points. Mandel, frankly, is not ready to represent Ohio in the United States Senate."

The Dayton Daily News doesn't endorse candidates anymore. That left Brown's shutout bid in the hands of the staunchly conservative Dispatch.

Finally, this morning, the Dispatch published a terse, backhanded endorsement of Brown. It complained that he's too liberal and supports Obama Administration policies, but called him "an accessible and tireless advocate for Ohio."

The Dispatch praised Mandel for "youthful energy" but said "his limited experience... can’t compare to the nearly four decades of public service that Brown brings to the job."

What good are newspaper endorsements anymore?

At least this: In a fiercely partisan time, they still warn voters when $20 million worth of catchy slogans and dirty campaigning make a shallow candidate look serious.

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