Tiberi’s announcement all but guarantees Republicans will nominate state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who lost to Brown in 2012. Mandel is trying to emulate Trump’s anti-immigrant populist appeal from last year’s election, which appeared to resonate with blue-collar workers in the Upper Midwest.
But pointing out that Trump’s approval has plunged to 39 percent in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday, one Ohio Republican said Mandel “can’t run as a mini-Trump. Sherrod Brown is already a populist. There’s going to be a need for another formula.”
In a sign that Ohio Republicans have not completely warmed up to Mandel, Tiberi said he could have won a party primary next year because he did not “have the baggage of losing to the current incumbent already," a none-too-subtle jab at Mandel.
“I haven’t thought about endorsing Josh at this point,” Tiberi said. “Who else is going to be in the race? That’s not a discussion for today.”
“I believe I could have been the best candidate to win a seat in November of 2018 on our side,” Tiberi said. “But it became clear to me over the last several weeks that it was going to be something that I couldn’t do with 100 percent effort (considering) my job and responsibilities.”
In particular, Tiberi cited his role as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, the tax-writing panel in the House. As a committee member, Tiberi has a chance to fashion a major package to overhaul the nation’s tax code.
“Tax reform we have been talking about that for years and now we’re in a position to do it and I didn’t want to back off of that to run around the state,” said Tiberi, who said at this point he intends to seek re-election.
Tiberi, 54, who has held the Central Ohio congressional seat since 2001, has $6.3 million in his campaign treasury account compared to $4.9 million for Brown, and $2.44 million for Mandel. But as a congressman, he would have been forced to spend millions to increase his name identification across the state.
RELATED: Central State, Bowling Green join Ohio’s checkbook system