Trump-backed Renacci wins primary to face Sherrod Brown


Associated Press

CINCINNATI

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, bolstered by the backing of President Donald Trump, won Tuesday’s Republican primary to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio this fall.

Renacci, 59, is in his fourth term in Congress and is a longtime businessman and former mayor of Wadsworth. He left the governor’s race to campaign for Senate and emerged victorious in a five-way contest.

Also in the race were Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons, Marysville small-business owner Melissa Ackison, Cincinnati-area financial management company founder Daniel Kiley and retired public administrator Don Elijah Eckhart, of Galloway.

Renacci said he switched to the Senate race with White House encouragement after Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel withdrew because of his wife’s health. Mandel had lost to Brown in 2012, after Brown unseated then-Sen. Mike DeWine in 2006. Brown was unopposed Tuesday for the Democratic nomination.

Brown, 65, is a former congressman and Ohio secretary of state. He has long fashioned himself as a champion of the working class and taken tough-on-trade positions. He praised Trump’s move this year to increase tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Brown’s career in Ohio politics spans four decades.

Renacci featured Trump prominently in his campaign ads, with the president praising Renacci during Ohio visits and endorsing him by tweet last month. Trump posted that he needed Renacci “very badly to help our agenda” and said he “has my full endorsement!”

Gibbons, who raised money for Trump’s presidential campaign and was endorsed by Citizens for Trump, depicted himself as the “conservative outsider” in the race, running a campaign ad showing Trump and pledging to help the president “drain the swamp.”

Gibbons, 66, last week sued Renacci for what he calls false and defamatory statements including that Gibbons is anti-Trump. Renacci’s campaign spokeswoman discounted that lawsuit as “sad and desperate.”

Renacci’s run for Senate opened his 16th District seat, spurring primaries for both major political parties.

In other developments, Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that will change the way the battleground state draws congressional districts.

Issue 1 on state ballots Tuesday had support from both Democrats and Republicans and faced virtually no organized opposition.

The proposal was modeled after new map-making rules for Ohio legislative districts that voters strongly supported in 2016.

The latest proposal aims to curb gerrymandering, the partisan manipulation of political boundaries that’s seen as a cause of partisanship, gridlock and incivility in Washington.

The amendment limits how counties are split into multiple districts and requires more support from the minority party to put a 10-year map in place.

If lawmakers can’t agree, an existing bipartisan commission will take over. If that fails, the majority party can pass a shorter-term map.

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