Ohio candidate for Senate defends ad calling out opponent Josh Mandel’s Jewishness
By SHIRA HANAU
(JTA) — A candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio defended an ad by his campaign that calls out his opponent Josh Mandel’s Jewishness at a candidate forum Thursday night.
Mark Pukita, an entrepreneur who is one of several candidates vying for the Republican nomination in a crowded primary, released a radio ad in October that called out his opponent Josh Mandel’s Jewishness. The ad highlights Mandel’s courting of evangelical voters by touting “Christian values.”
“Are we seriously supposed to believe the most Christian values Senate candidate is Jewish? I am so sick of these phony caricatures,” a voice says in the ad.
When asked by a moderator at a campaign forum Thursday night to respond to claims that he is “antisemitic and intentionally divisive and inflammatory,” Pukita defended the ad.
“In terms of antisemitism, all I did in an ad was pointed out that Josh is going around saying he’s got the Bible in one hand and the constitution in the other. But he’s Jewish,” he said, according to Politico. “Everybody should know that though, right?”
Mandel seemed to respond to Pukita in a tweet Friday.
“Opponents attack me because I’m a proud American and proud Jew. Liberals attack me because I’m fighting to protect Judeo-Christian values,” Mandel said in a tweet.
Mandel, who emphasized his Jewishness in his run for Senate in Ohio in 2012, has moved farther to the right in his current campaign and repeatedly pointed to his “Judeo-Christian values” in a bid to attract evangelical voters. The home page of Mandel’s campaign website feature a picture of a church steeple topped with a cross and declares that Mandel is “Pro-God.”
The “Judeo-Christian ethic separates itself from Islam and atheism and all these other belief sets on so many levels, but one of the main levels is our acknowledgment of good vs. evil,” Mandel said at a recent debate.