'This has broken my heart': Josh Mandel called out by former supporters for trying to become the new Trump
AFP/Josh Mandel Facebook

In a deep dive into Josh Mandel's drive to become the Republican Party nominee for an open U.S. Senate seat in November, former supporters of his -- along with some mainstream Republicans -- expressed dismay and disgust with his hard-right turn to find favor with Donald Trump's fan base.

As the New York Times' Jennifer Median and Lisa Leher wrote, Mandel -- who served as the state's treasurer -- has evolved from "a son of suburban Cleveland to warrior for the Make America Great Again movement" that has those who have watched his rise stunned by his transformation.

"Friends, strategists and supporters who powered his start in public life say that Mr. Mandel has so thoroughly rejected his political roots in Cleveland’s liberal-leaning suburbs that he is nearly unrecognizable to them," the report states. "Some are convinced that his shift began as a clear political calculation — following his party to the right. But with his recent entrenchment on the fringe, many now wonder if it is not just Mr. Mandel’s public identity that has changed, but also his beliefs."

According to Republican activist Matt Cox, his former friend reeks of opportunism as he embraces conspiracy theories including stating he believes the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

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“He’s twisting himself into something he wasn’t, just to win an election.” explained Cox, who admitted he is not a Trump supporter. "Telling obvious lies is not part of the game. It’s intentional. And you have to believe that, if you say it that often.”

Explaining that, "Mandel has burned protective masks and blamed the 'deep state' for the pandemic and has claimed that former President Barack Obama runs the current White House. He has rejected the separation of church and state and said that he wants to 'shut down government schools and put schools in churches and synagogues,'" the Times report adds, "Mr. Mandel has disputed that his politics have changed, arguing instead that he is in sync with the people he hopes to represent."

One former adviser and fundraiser expressed dismay with the lawmaker's decisions to embrace Trumpism.

“I want to believe that this is a character he is playing,” Rob Zimmerman, a Democrat who served on the Shaker Heights city council.

"It is jaw-droppingly different. The Josh Mandel of 2003 — of 2016, even — would not recognize the Josh Mandel of 2021," Zimmerman added before admitting, "This has broken my heart.”

Republican donor Brad Kastan believes the aspiring senator has made a big mistake expressing a belief that Mandel is “painting himself into a corner so far out that he can’t win” come November if he gets through the primary.

The report adds, "In Beachwood, discussions of Mr. Mandel’s politics can be as emotionally intense as a family feud. More than a dozen people approached in the affluent suburb declined to be interviewed, some saying they did not want to have to avert their eyes when they saw his relatives at the local coffee shop or the Beechmont Country Club."

You can read more here.