HAMILTON, Ohio -- Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says he has his “dream job” and will not trade it in for a possible chance at a U.S. Senate seat.
Jones said he was asked to run for U.S. Senate in the hopes he’d win the GOP primary and run against incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, after Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel dropped out of the race last week, citing his wife’s health issues.
“I gave it careful consideration, and I talked to many, many people,” Jones first told WCPO news partner The JournalNews on Wednesday. “I feel I have my dream job. I can affect a lot of government by having the bully pulpit, and I’m going to do that from here. I’m most effective as the sheriff and working here from Butler County, my home.”
He also said he has politicians, from Donald Trump to Mike DeWine, calling him to seek endorsements.
Jones was being courted because Mandel, who had been in the race for a year, dropped out. He 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.
For now, Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons is the front-runner for the GOP primary this May.
But others are being considered for the race, including Middletown native and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance, who last year said he wasn’t going to run. However, Politico is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, is trying to encourage him into running. If Vance enters the race, McConnell has said he would prioritize Ohio’s U.S. Senate race, according to Politico. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is trying to court U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, to run for U.S. Senate, according to the political news agency.
Brown is one of 10 Senate Democrats up for re-election this November. Republicans hold a narrow lead in the U.S. Senate. There are 51 Republican senators to 49 Democratic senators.
As for whom Jones would support for U.S. Senate, he’s not certain yet.
“I don’t know who I’m going to support,” said Jones, who just this week endorsed Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine for governor. “I don’t know who all is in the race.”
He said Gibbons had called him, but no one else. The filing deadline for the race is Feb. 7.
When asked if he’d support Vance, he said he’s briefly met him previously but has never talked with him at length.
“I have to wait to see if he’s interested,” said Jones. “I don’t know what he stands for. I know what Gibbons stands for. I know he wrote a book about growing up being a hillbilly. I don’t know if that’s enough for me. I’m going to take a little bit of time and see what I can come up with.”