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A Jewish Ohio state legislator is being criticized by his opponent for his military service in Iraq. Josh Mandel, a Republican representative in the Cleveland area, served a second tour of duty with the Marines shortly after starting his term in the Ohio Legislature. Mandel, 30, spent September 2007 through April 2008 as an intelligence specialist.

Mandel’s opponent in his bid for re-election, Democrat Bob Belovich, has accused the incumbent of abandoning voters. Belovich’s wife, Barbara, told columnist Joel Mowbray that Mandel “put his personal ambitions ahead of constituents” and “wasn’t serving our needs.” Belovich also told Mowbray that Mandel’s Jewishness helped him get elected in 2006 because some Jewish voters assumed he was a Democrat and others backed him because of his religion. Mandel responded that he didn’t know anyone who suppported him just because he is Jewish, and said the charges by the Beloviches about his military service “comes awfully close to degrading the sacrifices of our young men and women over there now.”

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