Republicans inside and outside Ohio are pushing their favorite candidates to jump into the U.S. Senate race to challenge incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown.
The field opened when Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel dropped out, and now Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons is the sole competitor. But Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who had endorsed Mandel, says he’s been hearing from people wanting to jump in.
“I would assume there would be a lot of people who jump in,” Portman says. “I’m trying to think how many people have called me the last few days. I think its five different people said they might be interested that either texted or called me. So I think it’ll be a spirited primary.”
Portman says author J.D. Vance is “looking into it“ and gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci is “definitely looking into it.” A spokesman for Renacci told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the Congressman is waiting for President Trump to invite him to run.
Other possible candidates, such as Gov. John Kasich, Rep. Pat Tiberi and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor have all shot down rumors that they would enter the race.
Vance, the author of "Hillbilly Elegy," moved to Columbus after the 2016 election and announced in September that he considered, but decided against, running for U.S. Senate. In the meantime, he joined the Rise Of The Rest bus tour to encourage Midwest startups.
But Politico reported this week that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke with Vance about jumping in the race. Unlike Gibbons, Vance has been critical of President Trump.
Gibbons doesn't plan to go down without a fight, though. This week, he announced he'll put $5 million of his own money into his campaign. Before, he was trailing far behind both Mandel and Brown in fundraising.