- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

CINCINNATI (AP) - 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.

“Ohio is a Trump state,” Renacci told supporters Tuesday night. “Ohio is going to move forward with the Trump agenda, and Ohio is going to get anybody who is an obstacle, including Senator Brown, out of the way.”

Renacci appealed for GOP unity after a tough primary.

“Now I hope we can come together,” he said.

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 more than 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 said in a statement Tuesday night that he continued to believe that the solution to Washington’s problems is sending new voices there.

“Career politicians are the problem,” Gibbons said. He said, though, that “Ohio has spoken. And it didn’t turn out our way.”

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.

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Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell


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