One of the highest profile 2010 Senate races got a little more crowded on the Democratic side Tuesday, when Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner announced that she would run for George Voinovich's open seat.
Brunner's entrance is likely to be followed by Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher's, presenting Democrats with two major state-wide figures from which to choose. On the surface, the up-in-the-air primary would be something for the party to lament. Republicans in the state have all but handed the nomination to former Bush U.S. Trade Representative, Rob Portman.
But Democrats aren't sweating yet. Saying he wasn't worried about having two prominent candidates in the mix, one senior Democrat explained why: "With Rob Portman on the ballot in November, all of the sins of the past will be on the table. The people of Ohio can thank him for the job losses, the tax credits for corporations who move jobs overseas, and our trade imbalances."
Indeed, Portman's ties to the Bush years, as this source explained, represent perhaps the last and best chance for Democrats to run a national race against the 43rd president.
That said, questions remain as to who the party would like to see emerge as its candidate. Governor Ted Strickland, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is committed to Fisher. "I believe Lee would be the strongest candidate if he were to choose to run. I don't say that to disparage Jennifer. She would be a very strong and credible candidate," he said.
And as Politico reported: "Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who mulled running for the Senate seat, will now be endorsing Fisher," as well.
But others see a better opportunity in Brunner who, rumor has it, was privately discouraged from entering the race. As one Ohio Democrat predicted, the Secretary of State would do much better reaching the type of voters who supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. And while Fisher has strong roots in Ohio Democratic circles, the source wondered whether his support structure would be too confined to the major cities and establishment figures.
"The progressives in state, the folks that are in Sherrod Brown's camp," said the Democrat, "are going to line up behind Brunner. Unless Fisher can secure this thing early and show that he is the best chance that Democrats have of winning."