In it, but not of it. TPM DC

GOP Challenger To Sherrod Brown Raises Big Bucks

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Among those standing with him, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, are Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and the Club For Growth, heavy-hitters in the conservative community and the kind of backing most any Republican making a serious run for office would want.

Mandel is touting his total as the most of any challenger running for Senate in the country. Those are the kind of numbers that bring in national support and vault you into frontrunner status.

Recent polling has shown Brown in a good position heading into 2012. A PPP (D) poll from May showed Brown leading Mandel 48-31. In a hypothetical Republican primary featuring former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (who has since decided not to run), Mandel drew 16% support.

What's more, there are signs that the Ohio electorate may favor the Democrats. Voters are turned off to their new Republican governor, John Kasich, and unions and progressive groups have gathered 1.3 million signatures to overturn Kasich's union-busting legislation. All that could lead to a fired-up Democratic base heading into 2012 -- and that's before Obama sets foot in the important presidential election state.

But with Blackwell out of the Senate race and the cash pouring in, Mandel is looking good to win his party's nomination. And with the impressive fundraising prowess he's already shown coupled with his national conservative support, it seems likely he'd mount a serious challenge to Brown.