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DeWine’s Son Ready to Enter Ohio House Special

Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine (R) is expected to announce his candidacy in Ohio’s 2nd district special election this week, making him the likely frontrunner to succeed Rep. Rob Portman (R).

Portman was recently nominated to be U.S. trade representative, a post he could be confirmed to as soon as next month.

DeWine, a former member of the Cincinnati City Council, is the oldest son of Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). He already has signed up a team of campaign consultants who have worked for him before, some of whom have ties to his father as well.

Mark Weaver, an Ohio-based GOP consultant, will serve as general consultant, Brian Tringali and B.J. Martino of the Tarrance Group will handle polling, and Erik Potholm of Stevens Reed Curcio and Potholm will do advertising and media.

Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich (R) also had been mulling a run for Portman’s seat, but last week he opted instead to become state Attorney General Jim Petro’s (R) gubernatorial running mate in 2006.

With Heimlich out of the race, DeWine allies argue that he becomes the clear frontrunner in what could become a crowded field. By tapping GOP donor networks in Ohio and Washington, D.C., they believe DeWine will be able to far outpace his opponents in fundraising.

The list of other interested Republicans includes former Rep. Bob McEwen, now a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist, conservative talk-show host Bill Cunningham, Hamilton County Treasurer Rob Goering, former state Rep. Jean Schmidt and state Reps. Tom Brinkman and Tom Raga.

Attorney Bill Keating Jr. (R) is also eyeing the seat, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Friday. Keating is the son of former Rep. Bill Keating (R-Ohio) and a partner at the same Cincinnati law firm where Pat DeWine works.

Two other Republicans, Clermont County Commissioner Bob Proud and Ohio Commerce Department Director Doug White, took their names out of contention for the seat last week.

Once Portman is confirmed and vacates the seat, Gov. Bob Taft (R) is likely to set a special election schedule that coincides with already-scheduled elections on Aug. 2 and Nov. 8.

Democrats are not expected to vigorously contest the heavily Republican leaning seat, although state Rep. Todd Book (D) has expressed some interest in running.

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