COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two right-wing activists that Ohio Republican Josh Mandel defended this summer against labeling by an anti-hate group have launched a super PAC backing his bid for U.S. Senate.
Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec are among founders of the #Rev18, for Revolution 2018, political action committee launched Monday.
Both men were involved in the conspiracy theory dubbed “pizzagate,” which suggested Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring out of a pizzeria.
A third partner, entrepreneur Jeffrey Giesea, told Cleveland.com that it likes Mandel’s style and message.
“He is bringing a new type of energy to the Republican Party that we want to see in 2018,” he told the news organization, noting the 40-year-old Mandel’s relative youth and “America-first” agenda.
A message was left Tuesday with Mandel’s campaign seeking comment on the Super PAC’s plans to support him. It is prohibited from coordinating with his campaign, but can raise and spend unlimited amounts on his behalf.
Mandel, Ohio’s state treasurer, retweeted a Twitter post by Cernovich in July that accused the Anti-Defamation League of “inciting terrorism” with a report identifying members of the “alt-right” and “alt-lite” movements.
It identified Cernovich and Posobiec as “alt-lite,” which the ADL defines as rejecting overtly white supremacist ideology, but embracing misogyny and xenophobia.
Mandel is making his second consecutive bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, this time around employing some of the campaign tactics used successfully by GOP President Donald Trump.
Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons, former Ohio co-chair for Trump, is challenging Mandel in the Republican primary.
His campaign disagreed with the PAC’s assertion that Mandel is offering something new.
Spokesman Chris Schrimpf said Gibbons is making inroads among Ohio grassroots groups “because he’s the only serious candidate in the race who isn’t a career politician.”
He said Brown has been in office for 40 years and Mandel, who has run for office seven times in the past 14 years, has spent “his entire adult life” as a politician.
Mandel also did two tours with the Marines in Iraq.
Mandel’s tweet in July cast the League’s identification of a list of key figures in the right-wing factions energized by Trump’s election as politically slanted labeling.
“Sad to see (the league) become a partisan witch-hunt group targeting people for political beliefs,” Mandel posted.
The league stood by its decision to identify both men as major figures in the burgeoning “alt-lite” movement, which bears similarities but is less staunch than what’s called “alt-right,” or alternative right. It said its work is aimed at stopping defamation not by politics.
A campaign spokeswoman for Mandel, who is Jewish and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, retorted at the time that “the ADL is dead wrong for creating hit lists on American citizens.”