- Associated Press - Saturday, February 18, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - In the timeline of politics, Ohio’s next statewide election is just around the corner.

For Republicans, that means working to avert a collision in 2018 among three high-profile gubernatorial hopefuls. For out-of-power Democrats, the challenge is to find any available candidate with the political clout and statewide name recognition to win the governor’s race.

Here’s a look at how races are shaping up so far:

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CROWDED GOP FIELD

Three top Republicans - Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor - have expressed interest in succeeding GOP Gov. John Kasich as he’s forced out by term limits.

DeWine, 70, is a former U.S. senator and Ohio lieutenant governor with high name recognition. His campaign committee reported more than $2.5 million on hand as of Jan. 31. Husted, 49, a former state senator and Ohio House speaker, reported roughly the same amount in the bank.

Taylor, 50, a former legislator and state auditor, has something potentially more valuable than money: the governor’s backing. Kasich said he would endorse her if she decides to run. While she has not yet formed a state committee, her nonprofit political organization, Onward Ohio, reports raising about $865,000.

Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci’s name also has been floated.

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DEMOCRATS’ DANCE

Former Ohio Treasurer and Attorney General Richard Cordray would be among Democrats’ top possibilities for governor, if Republicans in Washington succeed in firing him as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Meanwhile, other potential contenders are lining up in the wings. U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a perennial name on Democrats’ gubernatorial wish list, says he will make a decision soon.

Daytime TV host Jerry Springer, a former Cincinnati mayor, is reportedly considering a bid. He told The Cincinnati Enquirer he could be “Trump without the racism.”

Other Democrats in the mix include former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton; former state Sen. Nina Turner; state Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni; Mayors Nan Whaley, of Dayton, and John Cranley, of Cincinnati; Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill; and former state Rep. Connie Pillich.

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OTHER STATE RACES

Republican Auditor Dave Yost has amassed more than $1 million as he makes a bid for state attorney general. Yost, a former county prosecutor, is likely to face Democrat Steven Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney for northern Ohio who is also eyeing the office. Dettelbach has banked about $222,000, according to campaign finance reports.

Democratic state Rep. Kathleen Clyde is positioning to run for secretary of state, overseeing elections. She has a potential Republican rival in state Sen. Frank LaRose.

Republican State Rep. Keith Faber, the former Senate president, plans a run for state auditor, while Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo has been mentioned as a potential Republican treasurer candidate.

Democrats’ list for other down-ticket slots includes candidates currently looking at governor and a number of others, including Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, a 2016 U.S. Senate candidate, and state Rep. David Leland, a former party chairman.

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U.S. SENATE RACE

The 2018 race for U.S. Senate again finds incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown, one of the Senate’s most liberal members, facing a challenge from Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel.

The Brown-Mandel campaign fight in 2012 was one of the nastiest and most expensive anywhere in the country. This time around, Mandel has promised a mission and message “very similar” to that of President Donald Trump.

It’s not clear that Mandel’s bid for the Republican nomination will go unchallenged.

U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi’s name has surfaced as weighing a run, and, although he has dismissed questions about it, Kasich is being watched as a potential contender.


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