Establishment Republicans in Ohio are bullish on the chances of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel
, who has filed statement of candidacy papers with the Federal Election Commission to run for the Senate, but hasn't yet made an official campaign announcement.
Blackwell, who has staked out conservative positions and would likely run to the right of Mandel, lost badly as the GOP's gubernatorial nominee in 2006, but he still has connections to state Republicans and strong name identification, which would make him a serious force if he opts to enter the race. In a Quinnipiac University poll of GOP voters conducted last month, Blackwell led Mandel 33 percent to 17 percent.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported this morning
that Blackwell told syndicated radio host Dennis Miller
, "I'm going to make a decision [regarding the Senate race] sometime around the Fourth of July."
In Florida, Hasner is facing former Sen. George LeMieux
, R-Fla., and state Senate President Mike Haridopolos
. Hasner is backed by Redstate.com's Erick Erickson.
Another thing Blackwell and Hasner have in common: they were both among the handful of potential and actual Republican Senate challengers who came out early with full-throated support for Rep. Paul Ryan
's, R-Wis., budget proposal.