Sad news from Ohio

Josh Mandel, the former Ohio state treasurer, has withdrawn from the Ohio Senate race because his wife is seriously ill. “Understanding and dealing with this health issue is more important to me than any political campaign,” Mandel said. He did not say what the health issue is.

Mandel was expected to be the Republican nominee to oppose Sen. Sherrod Brown this November. Many considered him the GOP’s strongest candidate for the seat.

Mandel is a Power Line favorite. Indeed, he was one of our picks in 2012 when he ran for the Senate against Brown. Mandel, then age 34, lost by 6 points in a tough year for Republicans (whether 2018 will be any easier remains to be seen). It’s likely that Mandel would have been one of our picks this year too, but he’s out of the race now.

Naturally, speculation has already commenced as to other potential GOP candidates for the race. Cincinnat.com lists the most likely ones. None jumps out at me as likely to defeat Brown unless 2018 somehow turns out to be a big year for the GOP.

The one Republican who might be favored to win the seat is Gov. John Kasich. He has demonstrated his popularity by winning two statewide races, the most recent by more than 30 points. Kasich is unlikely to suffer from an anti-Trump backlash — if that is what’s in store — given his solid anti-Trump credentials.

Kasich’s problem, if he has one, would be getting the Trump base to vote for him. Both of Kasich’s statewide victories pre-date Trump’s arrival on the political scene.

The issue may be academic, however. John Weaver, Kasich’s political consultant, tweeted that the answer to the question of whether the governor will run for the Senate is “no” because Kasich has “bigger fish to fry.” By bigger fish to fry, I take it Weaver is referring to a run against President Trump in 2020, either in the primaries or, more likely, as a third party type candidate.

February 7 is the deadline for filing to run in this year’s Ohio Senate race. Thus, Team Kasich has time to reconsider (assuming the decision at this time really is “no”).

In any event, we wish Josh Mandel and his family well and hope his wife recovers quickly.

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