Republican Ohio Sen. Chris Widener to retire Jan. 31

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The No. 2 Republican in the Ohio Senate says he’s leaving the Statehouse at the end of January.

State Sen. Chris Widener, of Springfield, announced his retirement decision Thursday. He says after two decades in public service, it’s time to pass the torch. He says he’ll focus on his design and construction business and continue advocating for affordable, quality public education.

Widener is term-limited at the end of 2016. His stepping down early allows the Senate GOP to appoint his replacement. A likely candidate would be Republican Rep. Bob Hackett, of London, who is running for Widener’s seat.

Senate President Keith Faber (FAY’-bur) says Widener has been among his close advisers for the past three years. He says Widener had a key role in major policy and will be missed.