Butler County sheriff on possible Senate bid: ‘I’m not ruling anything out’

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones is non-committal about his possible future as a Republican U.S. Senate candidate as rumors spread about him replacing Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who dropped out of the race to unseat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on Friday.

Jones wrote on Twitter, “It’s good people want me for that job. Makes me proud” while also posting screenshots of reports that he’s being courted to replace Mandel. He also re-tweeted media reports about his possible candidacy.

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Jones told this news organization, “I’m not ruling anything out” but that “it will take $100 million to be competitive in this race.”

Jones said it would also take more than a promise of financial support to enter a race in which he’d have to campaign in nearly all of the state’s 88 counties in a matter of a few months. Before a Republican is to face off with Brown, a Democrat, in November, Republican candidates must compete in the May primary.

In leaving the race, Mandel wrote in a letter to friends and family that his wife, Ilana, has a health issue that will require him being there for her and their three children.

Jones, who posted a video in 2016 that said he was “the most interesting sheriff in the world,” said that if he joined the race he “can beat them all.” But of all the potential and rumored candidates, he said Ohio Gov. John Kasich would be “the easiest” to beat. Jones has been critical of Kasich in the past, most recently for Kasich’s non-support of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

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“I was a big supporter of Trump and supported him and helped pull him across the finish line in Ohio,” said Jones, who spoke at multiple Trump rallies in southwest Ohio in advance of the 2016 primary and general elections.

But Kasich, along with Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, have said they’re not interested in running for the Republican Senate nomination.

Kasich political consultant John Weaver tweeted on Friday, “To all the press calling, the answer is no. Bigger fish to fry.”

A spokesman for Taylor said, “Lt. Gov. Taylor is firmly committed to running for governor and giving the GOP primary voters of Ohio a conservative choice over the establishment ticket of (Ohio Attorney General Mike) DeWine and (Ohio Secretary of State Jon) Husted.”

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Jones said his name surfaced as a possible candidate from others in Ohio politics.

“I didn’t throw my name in. My name was thrown in,” he said.

Jones said that the Republican candidate will need financial support from the National Republican Party to defeat Brown.

“It’s not going to be my decision. It’s going to be someone else’s decision,” he said, indicating the national party will support the candidate it believes can beat Brown.

Jones said Brown can be beaten “if the right person is chosen and the machine is all pulling the same way and not divided up. They have to have money, also … and the guy who’s been in it for a year just quit.”

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