The Republican frontrunner to challenge U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown this fall is dropping out of the race.
Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, 40, on Friday afternoon, Jan. 5, announced in an email that he’s ending his campaign for the Senate seat due to a health issue for his wife, Ilana, “that will require my time, attention and presence.”
From the email:
Understanding and dealing with this health issue is more important to me than any political campaign. …
After recent discussions with our family and health care professionals, it has become clear to us that it’s no longer possible for me to be away from home and on the campaign trail for the time needed to run a U.S. Senate race.
Therefore, I’m writing today to let you know that I am ending my campaign for U.S. Senate in order to be there for my wife and our three children. This was a difficult decision for us, but it’s the right one.
Mandel’s departure leaves investment banker Mike Gibbons, who has never run for office before, as the only declared Republican candidate to take on the two-term incumbent Brown.
It also would appear to create a major opportunity for a more established GOP candidate to get into the race. But that would have to happen fast, since the filing deadline for the race is Feb. 7.
A candidate could come from the crowded field for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. It’s currently a three-way contest involving Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Attorney General Mike DeWine and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci. Plus, the biggest name in Ohio Republican politics, Gov. John Kasich, won’t have a job after this year and could clear the field if he decided to try to join the Senate.
The Ohio Republican Party said in a staement on Friday afternoon that Mandel “made an honorable decision to be with his family in a time of need. While we are saddened to see him leave the race, we understand, and offer our thoughts and prayers to his family.”
Brown issued a statement that read, “At this time, we wish Josh, Ilana and their family the best of health. We hope for Ilana’s full and speedy recovery.”
On Dec. 24, Politico ran an analysis of the top 10 Senate races of 2018 and put the Ohio race at No. 7, based on the likelihood of the election resulting in a change of party.
The website at the time evaluated the race this way:
A likely rematch of Brown’s 2012 victory (by about 6 percentage points) over state Treasurer Josh Mandel will be fought on altered terrain. That year, Brown appealed to the same blue-collar voters that embraced Trump in 2016. Mandel, meanwhile, has spent the past six years making as many enemies as allies in GOP politics: He endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio over his home-state governor, John Kasich, and hasn’t endeared himself to Republicans in Washington. If he defeats businessman Mike Gibbons in the primary, Mandel, a strong fundraiser, will have the money to challenge Brown across Ohio’s expensive television markets.