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Ken Blackwell Talking to NRSC About Ohio Senate Bid

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.

“Whether it’s the NRSC, whether it’s Sen. DeMint and his grass-roots operation, people are data-driven,” said Blackwell. “I think when it comes time to pull the trigger … I will be looking at it from 16 years experience running in a very big state. You don’t just come out and build the sort of support base that I have overnight.”

Blackwell said he will not go public with his decision about the Senate race until after his new book publishes at the end of May. But if he gets into the race, Republicans will have a crowded GOP field on their hands: Two other candidates, including state Treasurer Josh Mandel, have already filed paperwork to run.

“I don’t think a primary in itself is a bad deal. It’s a way to keep people honest,” Blackwell told Roll Call in the phone interview. “I’ve always done well by the primary process.”

Public polls show Blackwell would be in a strong position to run in the primary, although local Republicans have serious concerns about his viability in the general election, given that in 2006 when he was the GOP nominee for governor, he lost by more than 20 points.

A recent survey from Wenzel Strategies, a GOP firm, showed Blackwell leading the Republican field with 33 percent, while Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor received 19 percent and Mandel received 15 percent.

However, the same poll also shows Blackwell trailing Brown by a 13-point margin, 36 to 49 percent, which was the smallest margin out of any of the GOP contenders in the poll. The survey took the opinion of 1,264 respondents on April 6 and 7, and had a margin of error of 2.7 percent.

Roll Call Politics rates this race Leans Democratic.