Some Ohio Republicans are hoping former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel will challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown.
The Washington Examiner reported that Tressel is being floated after state Treasurer Josh Mandel dropped out of the race, citing his wife’s health.
After winning a national championship at Ohio State and taking his team to two other title games, Tressel is currently the president of Youngstown State University. Republican Rep. David Joyce said he is welcome across the state.
“Obviously, he’s had the opportunity now to run some universities, so he’s certainly got football team management and now university management under his belt,” Joyce told the Examiner.
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While some Ohio Republicans think Tressel could be formidable, they don’t think he would actually run. One told Roll Call there’s “no way” he would get into the race.
Two other Republicans told the Examiner that Tressel is not interested as Ohio’s Feb. 7 filing deadline approaches.
The calls for Tressel to run come as Rep. James B. Renacci is reportedly considering dropping his bid for governor to run for Senate and as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has attempted to recruit venture capitalist and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance.
The scramble also comes as many Republicans are dissatisfied with candidate Mike Gibbons, who is still in the race after Mandel stepped aside.
“Ohio State is such a strong attraction for most Ohioans that someone who coached Ohio State football will always be a popular name for political office,” GOP consultant Mark Weaver told the Examiner. “Having said that, it’s a big leap from Youngstown State University presidency to statewide candidate.”
Brown will also have a large war chest.
On Wednesday, his campaign announced Friends of Sherrod Brown raised $2.6 million in the fourth fundraising quarter of 2017. His campaign also said it has $9.8 million in cash on hand, double what he had at the same point during his last race in 2012 when he beat Mandel.
Simone Pathé contributed to this report