Gentile won’t challenge Garrison

State Sen. Lou Gentile won’t challenge former state Rep. Jennifer Garrison in the 2014 Democratic Congressional primary.

“After careful consideration and deep deliberation, I have decided not to enter the race for Congress because I believe at this time I can best represent my constituents in the Ohio Senate,” Gentile, D-Steubenville, said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Garrison, of Marietta, announced in July that she is running for the seat now occupied by Republican Bill Johnson, also a Marietta resident. She and Gentile had both been talked about as potential candidates earlier this year.

Gentile said in an interview with The Marietta Times Wednesday that he felt he owed it to the constituents who encouraged him to run to consider the idea. The prospect of facing Garrison – or any other Democrat – in the primary did not lead him to decide to stay put, he said.

“All along I’ve really wanted to evaluate what the best possible place for me to represent my constituents would be,” Gentile said. “That was ultimately what it came down to.”

Gentile is in the first year of a four-year Senate term he won in 2012 after being appointed to a seat just prior to redistricting. Although he won’t be on the ballot in 2014, he expects to be active on the campaign trail for other Democrats.

Although he said issuing an endorsement in the Congressional race would be premature nine months before the primary, Gentile did say Garrison makes a “very good” candidate.

“I think she is a very accomplished attorney and a committed public servant,” he said.