Space won’t enter Ohio Senate race

Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) endorsed Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher's (D) Senate campaign on Thursday, ending speculation that he might jump into the race for retiring Sen. George Voinovich's (R) Senate seat.

“I am taking this opportunity to wholeheartedly endorse Lee Fisher in his campaign for the United States Senate,” Space said in a conference call with reporters. “Lee Fisher is the best candidate.”

The lieutenant governor welcomed the endorsement, acknowledging that Space would have been a “very, very, very formidable” opponent in the Senate race.

“It means an awful lot to me that you're making this endorsement,” Fisher said.

Fisher is locked in what is expected to be a close Democratic primary for the Senate seat against Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found Fisher to be leading Brunner by a 20 percent to 16 percent margin, just outside the poll's plus-or-minus 3 percent margin of error.

Fisher got the attention of many national Democrats with his first-quarter fundraising. The Democrat hauled in more than $1 million while Brunner raised a disappointing $200,000.

Space's endorsement will likely help Fisher in Republican-leaning Southeast Ohio, where Space's district lies. Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain says Ben Carson should be developing brain cancer treatment, not working at HUD Graham urges Trump not to abandon infrastructure talks with Democrats Pelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award MORE (Ariz.) carried the district with 53 percent last year, but Space won reelection by nearly 20 percentage points.

Space's decision not to seek the Senate seat also denies Republicans an open House seat in a Republican-leaning district. The National Republican Congressional Committee has already targeted Space with a television ad, an early indication that it will target the seat next year.

The winner of the Democratic Senate primary will likely face former White House Office of Management and Budget Director and ex-Rep. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget WANTED: A Republican with courage Companies warn Trump trade war is about to hit consumers MORE, who is expected to be the Republican nominee. In Wednesday’s poll, both Democrats led Portman. Fisher led 42 percent to 31 percent in the survey, while Brunner was up 40 percent to 32 percent.