By Spencer Hunt
Enquirer Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS - Days away from a decision to run for the U.S. Senate, Jerry Springer is keeping such a low profile he's in another country.
Springer spokesman Dale Butland said the shock-TV show host and former Cincinnati mayor is on a family vacation in Italy, still mulling whether he'll become a candidate. While he was expected to make that decision by the end of the month, Butland said Springer may break his self-imposed deadline.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he asks for a few more days," Butland said. "That's just my speculation. I haven't heard any of this from Jerry himself."
Springer, 59, has traveled to Democratic Party events in 35 of Ohio's 88 counties since March, produced a 30-minute infomercial about his campaign and filed official candidacy papers in Washington. Despite all that, Butland insists Springer still hasn't made up his mind.
Denny White, the Ohio Democratic Party chairman, says he has no insight into Springer's decision-making process, either.
"We're not getting caught up in the hoopla," White said. "Jerry's going to do what Jerry's going to do."
If Springer does run, he'll face state Sen. Eric Fingerhut, D-Cleveland in the Democratic Party's March primary. The winner of that contest will face Republican U.S. Sen. George Voinovich in November 2004.
Fingerhut has said he thinks Springer has already decided to run.
Voinovich, who was in Columbus Monday, said of Springer: "He's a problem for the Democratic Party. We'll let them work it out."
Springer's campaign team says he will run only if the infomercial can raise significant amounts of money, and if he believes he can overcome the negative publicity created by his show.
Butland would not say how much money has been raised so far. The infomercial, which aired in several states and eastern Ohio, stopped running Sunday night.
"We are very pleased with where we are both in regards to the infomercial and the Internet," he said. "We've raised money from 25 states."
Jim Siegel of the Gannett Columbus Bureau contributed. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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