Springer's TV success a turn-off for Ohio's voters

Jerry Springer, the talk-show host responsible for bringing the gutter into the living rooms of television viewers around the world, has decided he is not yet ready to make the switch to US politics.

After months of speculation, Mr Springer announced yesterday he will not be running for the US Senate as a Democrat in his home state of Ohio. The reason, he said, was that people still saw him as "Jerry the man from the telly", rather than their prospective Senator.

"As long as I'm doing that show, my message, no matter how sincere and no matter how heartfelt, does not get through to the people I need to reach," he said. "That separation obviously hasn't taken place and would not take place in time for this election."

Some analysts, however, were suspicious of the explanation provided by a man who made his name hosting shows which typically feature a pregnant wife, her newly-outed gay husband, his bi-sexual lover and various other unlikely characters. Mr Springer usually concludes the show with some faux-empathetic "final thoughts". Publicity notes for yesterday's show, for instance, included: "Kathye just found out that her 83-year-old husband of 20 years, Chawn, has been having an affair with her best friend for the last six! Kathye will confront them both!"

Faced with such evidence, insiders in Washington suspected that during the six months Mr Springer, the former mayor of Cincinnati, spent criss-crossing Ohio attending dinners and speeches, it became clear voters were not ready to take him seriously.

Mr Springer said he would quit his show if he ran for the Senate seat, which has been held by the Republican George Voinovich since 1998. Although he believed he could give the Democrats the name recognition and the fund-raising ability needed to win, he had acknowledged the difficulty in "cutting through the clutter" of the Jerry Springer Show.