As the Republican senate primary in Ohio heats up, there’s more trouble for candidate Josh Mandel. Several women working on his campaign fundraising team have quit, citing a “toxic environment” created by the fundraising director Rachel Wilson. Campaign manager Scott Guthrie says that Mandel and Wilson have been dating since August.
Mandel is still fielding awkward questions arising from a messy divorce last year. The divorce was settled sometime in 2020—Mandel had the record sealed by the court—so it’s unclear if Mandel was dating Wilson while he was still married to his former wife, Ilana Shafran Mandel. Either way, women on his finance staff say that working for his girlfriend was untenable.
According to the Columbus Dispatch,
Wilson cussed out her subordinates, often demanded 12-hour workdays, berated them in front of others and called them names, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution and career damage.
Wilson did not return a phone call seeking comment, but the campaign responded via email to questions from the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau. Mandel and Wilson have been dating one another since August 2020, campaign manager Scott Guthrie said in an email.
One source said neither Mandel nor Guthrie stopped Wilson’s behavior even though both were aware of it for weeks. Finance staff members cried in the office on a regular basis, the source said.
Reporting by the USA Today Network’s Ohio reporter who reviewed text exchanges confirms that Mandel knew about the ongoing problems and took no action.
The personal problems that have put a cloud over Mandel’s campaign appear to be taking a toll on the campaign itself and at a critical time. Mandel does not seem to be raising enough money to compete with businessman and self-funding candidate Bernie Moreno or Jane Timken, another wealthy candidate who has put at least $1 million into her campaign.
Timken has problems of her own. Breitbart News reported how Timken’s family business increased its profits by outsourcing Ohio manufacturing jobs to China. American Greatness reported in March how Timken defended her protégé, Representative Anthony Gonzalez, for his vote to impeach Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, conservative investor J.D. Vance looks set to enter the race Thursday with a SuperPac that has already amassed more than $10 million in donations.
Mandel’s base of support has been with social conservatives especially in northeast Ohio around Cleveland. Many have already had enough and have aligned with other candidates. The combination of a rolling series of personal problems—many believe that the problems that led to his divorce were behind him dropping out of the senate race in 2018—and fundraising staff leaving en masse only complicate matters for Mandel in a competitive race.