BREAKING: Ohio Senate Candidates Nearly Break Out Into A Brawl And Have To Be Separated In Heated Confrontation

Photo Source: Andrew Spear/Getty Images

The two top contenders in Ohio’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate exchanged angry words during a Friday evening discussion and had to be forcibly removed before they could come to blows in a moment that soon went viral online.

According to reports, the altercation happened at a primary discussion hosted by FreedomWorks, a conservative non-profit organization, between Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel and businessman Mike Gibbons. Natalie Allison of Politico shared a video of the encounter on Twitter.

According to the Daily Wire, the fight between the two candidates occurred over Gibbons’ supposed business links in China.

Mandel brought out Gibbons about a half-hour into the discussion for his claimed participation in exporting Ohio jobs to China. Mandel stated that Gibbons sold “Perfect Fit” to a Chinese firm called Shanghai Shenda. He also stated that Gibbons was a shareholder in “Chinese Petro.”

Gibbons reacted to Mandel’s assertions by claiming he didn’t know where the claim about “Perfect Fit” came from because he wasn’t aware of the agreement, and he wasn’t sure what “Chinese Petro [had] to do with anything.”

Mandel chimed in, stating that Gibbons had registered with the FEC and “earned millions off of it.” Gibbons retorted that he did not personally purchase the shares and did not profit financially from his investment. Mandel persisted in questioning Gibbons about his suspected Chinese links. Mandel quickly rose up and approached Gibbons as he sought to speak.

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“You’ve never worked in the private sector in your life… you don’t know anything,” Gibbons said as Mandel hovered over him. “I’ve worked, sir,” Mandel shot back, getting in Gibbons’ face and pointing at him. “I served two tours in Iraq; don’t tell me I didn’t work.”

Brandon Boxer, the debate’s moderator, moved in to separate the two men while fellow GOP primary candidates J.D. Vance, Matt Dolan, and Jane Timken uneasily looked on. Gibbons, on the other hand, proceeded to verbally assault Mandel, who rose up again and then walked back into Gibbons’ face.

“Back off, friend, or you’ll end up…” According to Gibbons. “You step back,” Mandel commanded. “Never, never, never,” Gibbons chuckled. “Wait and see,” Mandel said. Gibbons then prodded Mandel further, saying, “You’re dealing with the wrong guy.”

“You’re dealing with the wrong [person],” Mandel said. “You wait and see what happens.” Toward the end of the discussion, one of the men called the other a “p**sy,” and while both candidates afterwards denied it, Allison’s video appears to show that Gibbons was the one who said the term.

“Reminder that these are the two frontrunners in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary,” Allison tweeted with footage of the incident.

Boxer eventually separated the two guys, while Vance persuaded them both to sit down. Vance, who, like Mandel, served in the United States Marine Corps, chastised him for the “disgraceful” way he used his military service throughout the argument.

“Gibbons and Mandel are the front-runners in the battle to replace retiring Senator Rob Portman.” The Daily Wire said that “the RealClearPolitics average puts Gibbons with a slim edge over Mandel, 20.0 percent to 18.7 percent.”

“Vance is third with 11.0 percent, Timken is fourth with 8.3 percent, and Dolan is fifth with 7.7 percent.” Following the discussion, a straw poll revealed that spectators overwhelmingly backed Vance, with Timken coming in second, Gibbons third, Dolan fourth, and Mandel last.”

A Fox News survey issued earlier this month showed Gibbons with a two-point advantage against Mandel, while a poll from The Hill and Emerson College released late last month showed Gibbons with a seven-point lead.

According to the RealClearPolitics average, Gibbons has a 1.3 percent advantage. Nearly all of the Republicans running for the Senate seat have sought to woo primary voters by portraying themselves as staunch allies of former President Donald Trump, who has yet to endorse any contender in the contest.

This week, Trump told The Washington Examiner. “Every single one of them favors Trump, and I like a lot of them. It’s difficult for me to recommend somebody above others when everyone likes you.”

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