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Former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken launches Senate bid

Former Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken is joining the race to replace retiring Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHarris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs How to save the Amazon rainforest MORE (R-Ohio). 

Timken was widely expected to make a run for Portman’s seat. Prior to launching her campaign, she resigned from her role at the Ohio Republican Party and hired a handful of Portman’s former campaign aides, most notably Corry Bliss, who managed the senator's successful 2016 reelection bid.

Timken announced her candidacy in a video that leaned heavily on former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies MORE, replete with attacks on former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a prominent Republican critic of Trump, and warnings of creeping socialism in the U.S.

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“We can’t let America become a socialist country,” she says in the roughly two-minute video. “I’m running for the United States Senate to stand up for you. Just like when I stood next to President Trump and supported his America-first agenda.”

“As Ohio Republican Party chairman, I cleaned house of the Kasich establishment who tried to elect Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFrench-American Foundation selects new president with fundraising background Pelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro MORE and Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies Overnight Defense: Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave | Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security | Army conducts review after 4 Black soldiers harassed at Virginia IHOP Feds expect to charge scores more in connection to Capitol riot MORE,” she continues. “I unified the party and delivered a second, decisive Ohio win for President Trump.”

Timken is the second prominent Republican to enter what is expected to become a crowded primary field. Former Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) announced his bid for Portman’s seat last week, marking his third run for the Senate after losing to Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenators spar over Biden green energy infrastructure push House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package Ma'Khia Bryant's TikToks go viral as alternative to body cam footage MORE (D-Ohio) in 2012 and ending a 2018 bid early due to family health matters.

Another prospective Republican candidate, Mike Gibbonsresigned from his role at the conservative super PAC Ohio Strong Action last week, saying that he would make a final decision on a Senate bid “in the next few weeks.”

Other potential GOP candidates include Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP draws line on taxes; nation braces for Chauvin verdict The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines GOP Rep. Steve Stivers plans to retire MORE (R-Ohio) and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. 

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On the Democratic side, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanBusinessman Mike Gibbons jumps into GOP Senate race in Ohio Biden's gun control push poses danger for midterms Trump faces test of power with early endorsements MORE (D-Ohio), who mounted an unsuccessful bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is expected to run. Others said to be considering a campaign are former Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman, Ohio state House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and Amy Acton, the former Ohio Health Department director who helped lead the state’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ohio is one of 20 states in which Republicans are playing defense in the 2022 midterms. Portman’s retirement has made it an especially tempting target for Democrats, who are eager to expand their ultra-narrow Senate majority. 

But the state is almost certain to pose a challenge for Democrats. 

Ohio has drifted to the right in recent years, handing 8-point victories to Trump in both 2016 and 2020. Meanwhile, Democrats have seen few successes in other statewide races, with the exception of Brown’s 2018 victory.