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Josh Mandel Drops Out Of U.S. Senate Race

Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel speaking.
Phil Long
Associated Press
Josh Mandel

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is dropping out of the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

In a written statement on Friday afternoon, Mandel said he recently learned his wife has a health issue that will require his time, attention and presence.

"After recent discussions with our family and healthcare 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," Mandel wrote.

Mandel was running against Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons to face incumbent Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown in the 2018 election. 

"While we are saddened to see him leave the race, we understand, and offer our thoughts and prayers to his family," Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken said in a statement.

Mandel lost his previous challenge against Brown in 2012, with about 45 percent of the vote. And his attempt at a rematch was not without its bumps: In December, the Franklin County GOP endorsed Gibbons over Mandel by an overwhelming margin. 

Mandel, a two-tour Iraq War veteran, announced his run last December, saying his priorities were immigration and fighting "radical Islam." Mandel fashioned himself in the image of President Trump, touring the U.S.-Mexico border in May and speaking out against the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits religious organizations from backing political candidates.

Gibbons also aligned himself with the president, hiring the digital team from Trump's campaign and criticizing "career politicians." But Mandel still led him in both fundraising and polls.

Now that Mandel has left the race, speculation has begun about what Republican might jump in to take his place. Among the names floated was Gov. John Kasich, who is term-limited and leaving office - but that suggestion was immediately shot down by his chief strategist. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who is in the Republican primary for governor but far behind the other candidates in fundraising, is a more likely candidate.

The filing deadline for the U.S. Senate race is February 7, and the primary election 90 days after that.

This story will be updated as more information develops.