Two Republican candidates for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat got in each other’s faces on Friday night during a heated primary debate.
Ohio Senate candidates Josh Mandel and Mike Gibbons clashed during a GOP primary forum held outside of Columbus, a tense exchange that forced a moderator to pull the two apart.
A video shared on Twitter by Politico reporter Natalie Allison shows the exchange starting when Gibbons accuses Mandel of “never having worked in the private sector.”
Mandel stands up from his seat, walks over to a standing Gibbon and shouts in his face: “Two tours in Iraq, don’t tell me I haven’t worked!”
“You don’t know squat,” Gibbons responds before a moderator pulls the two apart.
Mandel is a former state treasurer, while Gibbons is an investment banker in the Cleveland area. Seven candidates are on the ballot in the Republican primary, including former state GOP chair Jane Timken and venture capitalist J.D. Vance.
According to a Fox News poll in early March, Gibbons is leading the pack with 22 percent of voters backing him, while Mandel follows close behind with 20 percent of voters.
After Friday night’s row, the Ohio Democratic Party released a statement referring to the GOP senate primary race as a “cavalcade of clowns.”
“We encourage every voter to watch this forum and see for themselves why these Republicans do not deserve to be in the United States Senate,” said spokesperson Michael Beyer.
The primary is scheduled for May 3 but may be delayed after the state’s Supreme Court for the third time rejected a proposed redistricting map.