As state and national Republican operatives were reeling from the stunning announcement late Friday afternoon that State Treasurer Josh Mandel was abandoning his bid for the U.S. Senate next year, a grim realization was setting in throughout the Buckeye State GOP: that their chances of unseating Democratic Sen.
Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel has dropped out of the Senate race in OH after concerns arose about his wife's health.
Mandel wrote: "Understanding and dealing with this issue is more important to me than any political campaign". He calls the decision "difficult. but it's the right one".
Mandel had hoped to challenge Democrat Sherrod Brown, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in late 2016.
Mandel's choice reported Friday in an open letter to "loved ones" leaves Cleveland financier Mike Gibbons on the Republican side for the time being. Among the names floated was Gov. John Kasich, who is term-limited and leaving office - but that suggestion was immediately shot down by his chief strategist.
Even as he withdrew from the race, the current OH treasurer said he was on a path to defeating Democratic U.S. Sen. Businessman Mike Gibbons is the only Republican left in the race at this point. Gibbons has received some endorsements, but Mandel was leading him in both money and polls. "In other words, I need to be there", Mandel said in a statement to supporters.
Mandel, a 40-year-old Iraq war veteran, said he will finish his second term as treasurer.
Mandel lost to Brown in the 2012 election. Several Republican sources said they expected significant efforts to recruit US Rep. Jim Renacci or Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor into the race.
Brown's Senate seat is one of two-dozen that Democrats are defending this year, many in states that, like Ohio, President Trump won in 2016.