Jim Tressel ends Senate run talk

Despite a fervor of interest in the possibility of a Jim Tressel Republican run for U.S. Senate, the president of Youngstown State University threw water on the idea Thursday with a tweet declaring his intention to stay at the university.

The Feb. 7 filing deadline for the race’s primary election is less than a month away and a near vacuum was created to select a November contender for incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown when the most well-known candidate for the nomination, Republican Josh Mandel, state treasurer, pulled his name out of consideration earlier this month.

But U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci announced his intentions Thursday after a meeting at the White House. Renacci had been shooting for the Republican nomination for Ohio governor, but withdrew from the race to pursue the Senate seat.

The day after a Washington Examiner article stated Ohio Republicans wanted to see Tressel try for the Senate seat, he tweeted, “Appreciate so much the kind words regarding the US Senate campaign. Such an important role. Admire what our Senators do. Ellen and I are committed to continuing our work at YSU. Much accomplished. Much to do.”

Messages left with Tressel and the YSU communications department were not returned Thursday. Tressel renewed his contract last year at the university through June 2019 for $300,000 a year.

A spokesman for the Ohio GOP said the party had not been in touch with Tressel about a possible run and is committed to letting Republican primary voters select Brown’s contender.

“No matter who jumps in the race, we will remain neutral in the primary process and let the primary voters decide who they want their nominee to be,” said Blaine Kelly, state GOP spokesman.

Mark Munroe, chair of the Mahoning County Republican Party, said Tressel is the kind of man who would do well wherever he serves.

“There has been speculation on him for a run for a long time. He will be successful in whatever he does. I hadn’t heard any talk about him for this race, and it would be difficult to enter at this late stage in the cycle. But given the dynamics of this race, it isn’t surprising that his name came up,” Munroe said. “Right now, he is a part of the Mahoning Valley and we are fortunate for that.”

Renacci said Cincinnati Councilwoman Amy Murray, his pick for lieutenant governor, will now serve as state chairwoman for his Senate campaign. Renacci has run four times successfully for Congress and already has a statewide network.

Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Jake Strassberger called Renacci “the poster boy of Washington Republicans who’ve spent their time in office betraying middle-class workers to make life easier on the wealthy and well connected.”

Still running for governor are Republicans Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, with at least a half dozen Democrats seeking nomination May 8.

The Associated Press contributed to this story