State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) ended his Senate campaign Friday because of his wife’s health issues, depriving Republicans of a high-profile challenger to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) ahead of a Feb. 7 filing deadline.
“Understanding and dealing with this health issue is more important to me than any political campaign,” Mandel said in a message to supporters. “For as long as that takes, whether it is months or years, it is important that I heed my dad’s advice and be there for my wife and our kids.” (Hotline reporting)
Following Mandel’s exit, investment banker Michael Gibbons (R), who is already in the race, vowed to spend $5 million more of his own money “if needed.” A memo from his campaign said his Senate ethics filing shows Gibbons is worth $90-$100 million. (release)
Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-16) “is taking a hard look at departing the GOP governor’s race to run for the Senate, Republican sources said.” Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R) plans to stay the course with her run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and will not seek to replace” Mandel. (Columbus Dispatch)
Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones (R) said he is considering a bid, while Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance (R) is another potential contender.
Former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) will not enter the race, with spokesman Rob Nichols saying, "The congressman’s decision in May to not pursue a Senate run had nothing to do with Josh Mandel and the congressman looks forward to starting his new role with the Ohio Business Roundtable on Jan. 16th.” (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Secretary of State Jon Husted (R), who is running on state Attorney General Mike DeWine’s (R) gubernatorial ticket, is also staying out, saying he and DeWine “are working together better than ever.” (Twitter)
MORE POTENTIAL CANDIDATES. Todd Leebow (R), “the CEO of Majestic Steel who recently met with President Donald Trump,” is also being floated as a possible Brown challenger. (Politico)
State Sen. Matt Huffman (R) was floated as well. (WKYC)
Other potential candidates include Rep. Dave Joyce (R-14) and state party chair Jane Timken (R). The primary is Mat 8. (Hotline reporting)
ON BOARD. Over the weekend, 16 county chairs who are backing Renacci’s gubernatorial bid endorsed Gibbons. (release)
KASICH. “Allies of” Gov. John Kasich (R) “are divided about whether the term-limited Ohio governor should enter the state's upcoming Senate race.”
Shortly after Mandel’s announcement, “Kasich strategist John Weaver moved to squash the speculation,” tweeting: “There are bigger fish to fry.”
“But several Ohio Republicans said Weaver should not be so quick to dismiss a Kasich candidacy and are encouraging the governor to reconsider running for the Senate seat.” (Buzzfeed)
MORE MANDEL REACTION. NRSC Chairman Cory Gardner praised Mandel, saying, “Josh, Ilana and the entire Mandel family will be kept in our prayers during this difficult time. Not only is Josh a dedicated husband and father, but he’s also a strong, conservative leader.” (release)
Brown campaign manager Justin Barasky also wished Mandel well, saying, “At this time, we wish Josh, Ilana and their family the best of health. We hope for Ilana's full and speedy recovery.” (release)