Springer, who has hosted the trash-talking "Jerry Springer Show" for the last 13 years, said that he could not reach voters because of his links to the program.
"For me to be heard, I could no longer be doing the show. There has to be separation between the show and my entrance into politics in the elective arena," Springer told reporters at a press conference. "That separation obviously has not taken place and certainly would not take place in time for this election."
Springer said that he had received much support as he criss-crossed Ohio over the past six months. But he said one message was clear throughout: that he could not run for office while hosting a show in which not only the female guests, but audience members, frequently strip off their shirts in a Mardi Gras-style circus environment.
"I have enjoyed doing it, so I am not apologizing for the show," Springer said, "but I do recognize what I am being told, and I do recognize the reality."
"And the reality is," Springer added, "'We will listen to you, we believe your sincerity, we even like some of your answers, and we're ready to sign up, but you can't be doing the show while this is going on.'"
Springer, 59, was elected mayor of Cincinnati at the age of 33 in 1978 and served until 1981. He has previously served on the city council.
Some Ohio Democrats saw Springer as an embarrassment to the party because of his television show, while others said he could have provided a boost to a party that has lost every statewide nonjudicial election since 1992.
A University of Cincinnati poll taken earlier this year showed the talk show host had a 71 percent disapproval rating from Ohio voters.
This is not Springer's first flirtation with statewide politics. He considered but decided against a run in 2001 for the Senate seat of Republican Mike DeWine (search), who cruised to re-election over little-known Democrat Ted Celeste.
Springer acknowledged that the Democratic Party in Ohio was short on voters, and that to win he would have needed the support of the "two and a half million Ohioans who don't relate to either political party, who think it's all a bunch of bull."
But, he said, "That is who I am hoping to attract, to bring to the tent, to have a government that responds to their needs, but that message I can't get through the clutter of the show."
So far, only one Democrat, state Sen. Eric Fingerhut (search), a former congressman from Cleveland, has announced his intention to challenge Voinovich, a popular lawmaker who served two terms as governor before winning his first Senate term in 1998. Voinovich also was mayor of heavily Democratic Cleveland for 10 years.
Springer said that he would continue to seek ways to be politically active.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.