On Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas backed Josh Mandel in the extremely contested Ohio Senate Republican primary.
Cruz lauded Mandel as a “proven warrior” against the Democrats and a defender of conservative values.
He gave Mandel highly sought-after support in a contest that has frequently been dominated by ad hominem attacks on the Republican base.
Statements on the Endorsement
I’m proud to endorse @JoshMandelOhio for U.S. Senate in Ohio.
Josh is a proven fighter for our American way of life, a champion for the unborn, and a stalwart advocate for our religious liberties.
Join me in supporting Josh: https://t.co/mggKujYazZ
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 4, 2022
The support comes as polls narrow between Mandel, an erstwhile state treasurer who was once the undisputed frontrunner, and businessman Mike Gibbons.
In a RealClearPolitics polling average of the race, Gibbons leads Mandel by 1.3 percentage points. The primary is currently scheduled for May 3.
Mandel told the Washington Examiner that having Senator Cruz’s backing “demonstrates that he feels I am the only candidate in this United States Senate race with backbone and fortitude.”
“When I am elected to the Senate, I look forward to assisting Senator Cruz in opposing Joe Biden and working to reject the far-extreme left’s agenda.”
Three weeks ago, Mandel and Gibbons had a furious face-to-face confrontation during a candidate discussion and came dangerously close to colliding.
The two have been squabbling over control of the conservative base, accusing one another of conservative heresy on matters such as abortion and praising former President Trump’s allegiance.
— Josh Mandel (@JoshMandelOhio) April 4, 2022
Cruz is the Senate’s most conservative member, according to GovTrack. Mandel’s team hopes Cruz’s endorsement will enhance his appeal to Republican voters as the primary season winds down.
“Josh is a decorated United States Marine, a staunch defender of the American way of life, a champion of the unborn, and a stalwart defender of our religious liberty.”
“I am happy to endorse Josh Mandel for the United States Senate, and I encourage every conservative in Ohio to do the same,” Cruz said.
Trump’s silence has hung over the contest. The candidates have talked about the former president a lot, but so far, he hasn’t said anything about them.
Senator Rob Portman, who presently occupies the seat, but has chosen not to seek reelection, backed Jane Timken, the former chairperson of the Ohio Republican Party, in February.
After Mandel and Gibbons, Timken is now ranked third in the RealClearPolitics aggregate.
Election dates in Ohio have been unpredictable, due to judicial challenges over redistricting.
In late March, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose authorized election boards to strike state legislature candidates off ballots, following a court ruling invalidating the state legislature maps.
While Senate races are statewide contests, the state may consider extending the primary date if other races are delayed, due to legal snafus around redistricting.
A Fox News poll conducted last month of 918 primary voters revealed that 24% of participants were unsure about the contest. When the survey was done, it took place from March 2 to 5.
There is a three-point margin of error.