The following is an endorsement by the Springfield Sun Times...
Three Republicans are vying to run for the 10th Ohio Senate seat, State Rep. Chris Widener, former Greene County Commissioner Reed Madden and Wittenberg student James Howard.
The district and Clark County would be best served if Widener wins the March 4 primary.
Widener's experience in the legislature has given him command of the complex issues that face the state.
He is aware that school funding is a festering problem that has been ignored too long in Ohio and says he likes what he's heard from Gov. Ted Strickland on how to fix it. Widener is a staunch conservative, sometimes too conservative, but his willingness to work with a Democratic governor is both a sign that he is willing to compromise and recognizes the political reality facing the legislature.
Widener, an architect who grew up on a farm, currently represents the largely rural 84th District and has a grasp of the issues facing farmers. He was a force in making the state's tax changes that have helped attract and retain business to the state.
Widener's opportunity to move to the Senate comes because Republican Steve Austria, who currently holds the seat, is term-limited and is running for the U.S. Congressional seat being vacated by the retiring David Hobson, R-Springfield.
Widener hasn't always made the best use of his seat. He chairs the House finance committee. He could have been more of a force on home foreclosure and predatory lending legislation. Much should have been done before now on those issues. Widener helped make bad law when he voted to override Gov. Bob Taft's veto of legislation that struck down local gun laws.
As a senator he will find his district has a more urban flavor and a march more toward the middle of the political spectrum would make him more representative of his constituents should he win in the fall.
His main opponent is Reed Madden, a fixture in Greene County government. Madden's approach to government is pragmatic and he would bring knowledge of county goverment needs to the job.
Howard is 18 years old. His ambition is to be admired, but being a state senator requires at least some experience.
The winner of the primary will face Clark County Commission President Roger Tackett, the lone Democrat vying for the seat.