Josh Mandel

The 2014 slate of Democratic candidates for Ohio’s statewide offices is not exactly set in stone, but it is getting pretty close.

Why so early, you ask?

Well, when you have been beaten like a rented mule in the 2010 statewide elections, as the Ohio Democratic Party was, there is no such thing as being too early out of the gate.

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State Rep. Connie Pillich, a Democrat from Montgomery, announced this morning she will take on Republican incumbent Josh Mandel for the Ohio treasurer's office in 2014.

Pillich, who represents the 28th Ohio House District in northern Hamilton County, won re-election last year after Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly had re-drawn her district to make it considerably more Republican.

She is a third term state representative, a retired captain in the U.S. Air Force, and a lawyer.

Joseph Fuqua II / Pool photo

One thing was clear after 60 minutes of the U.S. Senate debate between Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel that was broadcast live on NBC affiliates across the state Thursday night.

And that one thing is that Ohio voters couldn’t have a choice where the differences between the two candidates are pronounced and more profound.

photo by Michael Keating

Hamilton County Republicans have a raft of get-out-the-vote events scheduled over the next week, involving everything from visits from high-profile GOP senators to a night of Greek cuisine at a Republican volunteer call center.

On Saturday, Sen. Kelly Ayotte – who was considered a contender for the GOP vice presidential nomination this year – will headline a “Republicans Top to Bottom” rally at the Sharonville Convention Center.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, locked in a tough race for re-election, will rally with union workers and Democratic supporters Wednesday afternoon to draw attention to his role in the 2009 auto industry bailout, which he says saved 850,00 Ohio jobs.

The rally is at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union hall at 1100 Crawford St. in Middletown.

Brown's campaign chose Middletown for the rally because AK Steel, located in that Butler County city, produces some of the steel for the Chevy Cruze, an Ohio-built auto.

Both the presidential contest between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney and Ohio's U.S. Senate race are dead heats, according to an Ohio Poll released this morning by University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research.

Obama holds a 3 percentage point advantage over Romney among likely Ohio voters, 49 percent to 46 percent - within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.