COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Mike DeWine, the state attorney general and a former U.S. senator, confirmed Thursday what political prognosticators have reported for months: He's running for governor.
The 69-year-old Republican shared his less-than-secret plans with a Dayton charter school official in a conversation overheard by a reporter. DeWine told the Dayton Daily News the discussion had been confidential — but the substance was true.
His spokeswoman, Lisa Hackley, said DeWine has not particularly been hiding the fact that he plans to run for governor in 2018.
DeWine told The Associated Press on Thursday that he still is not ready to make an official announcement. He said he's focused on supporting Republican candidates running this fall.
"Certainly, it's not been a secret that I'm interested in running for governor in 2018," DeWine said. "But it's not fair to others for me to start to run for governor now while we have so many good candidates on this year's ballot and such an important election in front of us."
Republican Gov. John Kasich is prevented by term limit rules from running again. DeWine faces a likely three-way primary contest with Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Taylor, a former state lawmaker and state auditor who has served as Kasich's No. 2 since 2011, told reporters in October that she was seriously considering a run. That was after she filed papers to form a nonprofit allowing her to raise money for general political activities.
The late Bob Bennett, the influential longtime chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, tapped Husted as a rising star and potential gubernatorial nominee in the mid-2000s.
Husted has continued to aspire to the office, though he's made no formal announcement. He's been elections chief since 2011 and, before that, served as a state senator and speaker of the Ohio House.