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Ken Blackwell appears to be inching closer to a Senate run

In the past week, we have seen more evidence that former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is seriously considering a run for the GOP nomination to take on Senator Sherrod Brown.

A few weeks ago, we reported on Blackwell’s good performance in a couple of polls, winning both of them. And Ken also fared best in head-to-head matchups against Brown.

If the election for U.S. Senate was held today, and the only candidates running were Ken Blackwell and Sherrod Brown, for whom would you vote?

Blackwell 32.2%
Brown 45.0%
Undecided 22.8%

The results against Brown are not encouraging, but Sherrod can’t be too comfortable sitting at 45%, either.

And in the same matchup against Brown, Tiberi and Mandel fared much worse than Blackwell, getting 20.8% and 21.4%, respectively.

Then, last week, we shared an email that we received from Senator Jim DeMint’s PAC, that indicates that the well-funded, tea-party backed group would definitely be aiming to replace Sherrod Brown with a conservative candidate during this cycle.

I’m confident that a courageous, constitutional conservative can defeat Sherrod Brown, and I’m confident we will have one to support in this race. But we need to start banking resources now to defeat him.

Ohio is a swing state so winning won’t be easy or cheap. Voters in the Buckeye State need to know what Sherrod Brown has been doing in Washington. They need to know that he routinely votes for more government at the expense of their jobs and their freedoms.

Last week, Roll Call told us that Ken Blackwell has already contacted DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, and also the NRSC, about a 2012 race against Brown.

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R) has reached out to both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) operation to talk about a bid against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) as part of his continued interest in the race.

Encouraged by recent polls that show him leading the GOP field, Blackwell told Roll Call this week that he is still actively considering a bid against Brown — but it will be several weeks until he makes any kind of formal announcement about his intentions.

First, the SCF. There is no doubt in my mind that Ken Blackwell is a conservative that DeMint would endorse. He’s correct on all of the right issues. He’s unwaveringly pro-life. He’s not just pro-2nd amendment, he’s on the NRA Board. He’s an unquestionable fiscal conservative, recently pushing for a balanced budget amendment.

The same can also be said of Josh Mandel, however, as I have discussed before. The SCF does make endorsements in primaries for open seats. But if it’s between Mandel and Blackwell, I think they may hold off for a while. Endorsing one would mean campaigning against and using their resources against another solid conservative, a position I don’t think they want to be in.

As far as the NRSC goes, I’d be surprised to see them endorse someone in the primary. They ended up with a lot of egg on their face after endorsing Charlie Crist, angering a lot of their base. They won’t do that again anytime soon (I hope).

The third group in the mix is going to be the biggest hurdle for Ken Blackwell, and that’s Ohio’s GOP establishment. I’m telling you right now, they will be behind Josh Mandel. The relationship between the ORP and Ken Blackwell is cool, at best.

Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine told the Columbus Dispatch party leaders would be willing to discuss a Senate bid with Blackwell, but he questioned whether Blackwell could overcome his 2006 drubbing in the governor’s race.

“This will be a tough election cycle, and he needs to show how 2012 will not be 2006,” DeWine told the Dispatch.

Blackwell has responded to DeWine, and tweeted that indeed, 2012 is not 2006. He also reminds DeWine that he has already supported another candidate who lost big in 2006, namely, DeWine’s own 2nd cousin, Mike DeWine. Mike DeWine is the very Senator who lost his seat to Sherrod Brown, getting drubbed at the polls just like Blackwell did.

If you aren’t familiar with what Blackwell is referring to, Dave Yost entered the race for Attorney General long before Mike DeWine did. Once DeWine did enter the race, Yost mysteriously decided to run for Auditor instead. The ORP then gave their full endorsement to Yost and DeWine, even though there were still other candidates in the two races. Although they deny it, this was clearly orchestrated by the ORP. The fact that the two DeWines are related made it even more fishy. In the end, the GOP swept every statewide race, so perhaps all’s well that ends well.

I’ve expressed the same concerns about Blackwell’s loss in 2006, but he makes a good point. With lots of bad news out of Iraq, that was a wave election for Democrats. They took over the Senate and the House that year, plus won every statewide office except for Auditor. Blackwell also had another handicap with former GOP Governor Bob Taft hung around his neck, who finished his term with popularity somewhere in the 20s.

If Mike DeWine could come back from that loss to win statewide, why can’t Ken Blackwell? He has certainly won statewide before. And if the ORP could get behind Mike DeWine after his 2006 pounding, why couldn’t they get behind Ken Blackwell as well?

Ken says he will make an official announcement in May. Kevin Coughlin has also filed paperwork to enter the race, but realistically, this race would be between Blackwell and Mandel. The bad news is that that is one tough choice for an Ohio conservative to make. The good news is, that no matter who wins, our challenger to Sherrod Brown would definitely be somebody we can get excited about.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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