Bush’s man in Ohio

BUSH’S MAN IN OHIO…. With Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) retiring at the end of his term in 2010, Republicans in the Buckeye State are scrambling for position. Leading the pack, to the delight of the GOP establishment, is former Rep. Rob Portman. I’m not sure Republicans have thought this one through.

…Republican sources confirmed that Portman plans to announce his candidacy later this week with a statewide media tour. He has talked about his desire to run for U.S. Senate but not against a party incumbent. […]

Portman is popular in Southwest Ohio but isn’t a household name elsewhere in the state, despite stints as head of President George W. Bush’s budget office and as U.S. trade representative. Sentiment against Bush and trade agreements Portman championed may drag on his candidacy.

Ya think?

I sometimes get the sense that the Republican establishment may not fully appreciate how unpopular George W. Bush is, and why being closely associated with him is not a recipe for career advancement.

Portman spent a year as Bush’s U.S. Trade Representative, helping shape the administration’s trade policy. How popular do you suppose Bush’s trade policies are in Ohio? Portman then spent another year as Bush’s Budget Director, and I’m hard pressed to think of anyone, anywhere, who’s prepared to defend this president’s budgets.

No one who worked closely with this president saw their reputations enhanced by their service. Even those handful of people who entered the Bush administration with a degree of credibility left looking smaller, less impressive, and with less stature.

What on earth leads Portman to think he can parlay work as Bush’s budget and trade guy into a Senate seat in Ohio?