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Updated, 9:10 p.m.
Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell will not run against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), ridding Republicans of a potentially divisive primary in one of their key targeted states.
"After three months of quietly talking with my family, friends, political strategists, donors and two men who have expressed a strong interest in this Senate seat, I have decided to end my active consideration of a run for the U.S. Senate," Blackwell told the Daily Caller on Friday. "I believe it is unfair to the conservative objective of defeating Sherrod Brown to stretch out my decision making process any further."
Blackwell was publicly mulling a bid for months, describing his interest in the race to Roll Call in an April interview and even reaching out to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
But his candidacy would have caused a major headache for national Republicans seeking to avoid a primary for the Senate seat. Ohio Republicans have been talking up state Treasurer Josh Mandel as a candidate, and the Republican has already filed his paperwork to run against Brown.
Several recent polls showed Blackwell leading the Senate GOP primary field over other candidates, including Mandel. But Republicans questioned Blackwell's viability in the general election after he lost by more than 20 points in the 2006 gubernatorial race.
Blackwell gave the Daily Caller a few additional reasons why he would not seek the office, including not wanting to make "nice" with "folks with whom I would rather not," and saying he prefers an executive office to a legislative one.
Former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R) has also announced his candidacy for the seat, although he is not as well-known as Mandel.