The primary filing deadline (Feb. 7) in Ohio is still three weeks away, and much can still change, but buildup for the election has already been fast and furious.
Hold on, if you like politics. The rest of 2018 may be just as crazy.
The once-crowded field of wannabes for governor has shrunk dramatically in the past week, though one still needs a lineup card to keep track of the potential candidates. Choices still abound.
Two declared candidates on the Democratic side — former state Treasurer Richard Cordray and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton — decided to join forces, with Cordray picking Sutton as his running mate for lieutenant governor.
While Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, also a Democrat, pulled out of the race Friday, other hopefuls remain, including William O’Neill, who says he will give up his seat on the Ohio Supreme Court to run; state Sen. Joe Schiavoni; and former state Rep. Connie Pillich.
Meanwhile, another Democrat, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, could join the governor’s race next week.
The Republican side has also narrowed in recent days.
Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted were both among those seeking to replace Gov. John Kasich, but like Cordray and Sutton, have decided to join forces. Their combined political experience is extensive.
They will face a primary challenge from Mary Taylor, Kasich’s lieutenant governor, and Nathan Estruth, a recently retired Cincinnati CEO, who Taylor picked this week as her running mate.
Taylor and Estruth, who visited The Courier this week, are billing themselves as “more conservative” than the DeWine/Husted ticket, and as the “outsiders party” compared to their opposition, who they call the “insiders party.”
That outsider argument will have to be made.
While Estruth is new to politics, Taylor is no rookie. She has served in the Ohio House (2003-2006) and as state auditor (2006-2011) before serving two terms as lieutenant governor under Kasich.
For Republican voters, the May 8 decision could come down to what level of conservatism they prefer. For Democrats, it may be what kind of experience matters most.
Head-to-head debates — none of which have been announced yet — could go a long way in determining who wins the GOP and Democratic primaries, and who ultimately prevails in November.
Then again, the options may change (and likely will) between now and Feb. 7.
Regardless of who ends up on the ballot, though, Ohioans should be looking forward to hearing more from the governor candidates and their running mates, and their ideas for moving the state forward.
Monday’s Courier’s View: Mandel’s exit creates new opportunities for GOP in U.S. Senate race.