August 16th, 2012 By Andy Brownfield | News | Posted In: Humor, 2012 Election, Republicans

It's Josh Mandel Y'all!

Northern Ohio senatorial candidate affects Southern drawl for western Ohio coal miners

josh_mandel headshotOhio Treasurer Josh Mandel

I, for one, was comforted to hear the warm Southern drawl put on by Ohio treasurer and senatorial candidate Josh Mandel while he campaigned for Mitt Romney before Beallsville coal miners on Wednesday.

As someone who recently spent six months living and working in Montgomery, Ala., it brought me back to simpler times when summer nights were spent drinking sweet tea spiked with rum on a porch and it was for some reason still OK to refer to a grown black man as “boy.”

So when I heard Josh Mandel extoll the virtues of coal in a drawl reminiscent of fresh butter spread on cornbread, I immediately thought, “shucks, this guy gets me — he’s one of us.”

Wait, what’s that? Mandel hails from Lyndhurst, a Cleveland suburb that’s the Hyde Park of Northern Ohio? He’s never even eaten cheese grits? (Editor’s note: CityBeat could not independently verify that Josh Mandel has in fact never eaten cheese grits.) Well now I just feel put on.


The Enquirer reported that Mandel had never publicly used a Southern accent before.

"As if blowing off work and hiring unqualified campaign workers and friends at taxpayer expense wasn't evidence enough of his blatant disregard for the people who elected him treasurer expecting that he'd do his job, Josh Mandel has now stooped to faking his accent as a means of earning votes," Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Andrew Zucker said in a statement.

"It's sad, it's pathetic and unfortunately it's concrete proof that he is just another politician who can't be trusted."

Sounding folksy or down-homey is nothing new in presidential politics.

When campaigning in Alabama, Romney famously dropped “y’alls” into his speech and spoke of his newfound love for “cheesy grits” and catfish (my editor in Montgomery was quick to point out to me, another carpetbagger, that any real Southerner knows they’re cheese grits, not cheesy grits).

If there’s one thing Southerners don’t take too kindly to, it’s Yankee pandering.

“If you’re going to pander, at least pander well, and this isn’t pandering well,” Stephen Gordon, a Republican consultant based in Birmingham, Ala., told the Boston Herald shortly after Romney made his remarks. 

“People in the Deep South have a bit of a natural distrust for Northerners, especially folks from the Northeast,” said Gordon, who is not affiliated with any campaign in the Republican presidential contest. “There are cultural differences, stemming all the way back to the Civil War, and they affect the way people perceive Mr. Romney.”

Romney is by no means the first to affect an accent to fit in with the natives.

Both Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton adopted drawls while on campaign stops in the South. Though those two former presidents, from Texas and Arkansas respectively, had the bona fides to pull it off.

08.16.2012 at 03:24 Reply

I can't believe, Andy Brownfield, that you wrote an entire piece about this. Mandel actually has a little bit of an accent no matter who he is talking to, it's not just in this case. But regardless, this is not newsworthy. I would have thought that you would be writing about things that actually matter, especially considering the credible news orgs you previously worked for. Now, I'm just sad for you.


08.20.2012 at 09:52

Hey Summer, thanks for the comment, it's always good to get feedback from readers. A good reminder that you're not only writing to produce a product for out-of-state corporate heads.

While I think you have a point, specifically about the newsworthiness of this item, if you look at the top of the post you'll see it's filed under "humor." This isn't meant to be a straight news piece, and if you look at other humor blogs I've done (I recently lampooned the Ohio Democratic Party for sending out a press release with a fake endorsement of Mandel from "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" calling it the stupidest press release of the week http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blog-3786-fictional_character_endorses_josh_mandel_for_senat.html) you'll see that we pretty much make fun of people indiscriminantly if they do stupid or even mildly amusing things. While you can argue about the alleged humor of such posts, I take reporting of the news very seriously and try to give a fair shake to all groups, from COAST to Progress Ohio. So if you have an issue with my news report, please let me know. But please take this in the nature it was intended, as a light-hearted look into the foibles and affectations of politicians in an election cycle.


08.25.2012 at 02:03 Reply

If the accent's fake, that's definitely disqualifying.  Other pols NEVER do this sort of thing. 

That Hillary southern drawl which appears from time-to-time is 100% organic, certified by Cornell West himself.  Same with the little ebonic inflections occasionally found in a Biden speech.  We've all seen The Office, and we know how gangsta Scranton can be.

And, Obama's black preacher-flavored riffs are ghetto-genuine, something he learned on the mean streets of Waikiki.  I should know.  I lived in Hawaii for many years, and I have exactly the same patois!