Still a year out from a primary, Ohio race for Republican U.S. Senate nomination fills up

Rob Portman
Posted at 5:39 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 18:47:50-04

CLEVELAND — Ohio is still more than a year away from the primary, but the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate has started to fill up.

This week, Cleveland Businessman Mike Gibbons became the latest GOP hopeful to throw their hat into a ring that already includes former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, former state party chair Jane Timken and businessman Bernie Moreno. The four famously sat down by former President Trump at Mar-a-Lago for a meeting compared in the press to the Apprentice as well as the hunger games.

"It certainly wasn't the Hunger Games," Gibbons told News 5. "It was a very cordial meeting with four people in it, certain people spoke more than others, a lot of it was sloganeering, and generally when I spoke I kind of concisely said how I viewed it."

Gibbons ran against Jim Renacci for the Republican Senate nomination in 2018 winning 38 counties in his loss, running as a political outsider which he will do again.

"People want to hear authentic people that tell the truth and that is what I do," Gibbons said.

News 5 Political Analyst Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University said of Gibbons "I think he sees himself as carving out a lane as both a successful businessperson who has not been in politics but is also a strong Trump supporter."

There are still a couple of Republican Congressmen in the state who could enter the race still and also Hillbilly Elegy Author J.D. Vance who saw a $10 million donation made into a PAC supporting him by PayPal co-founder Peter Theil.

"He can really capture that populist Republican rural vote that he very much reflects in his own experience in what he wrote about in his memoir," said Sutton of Vance. "We could in some ways see an Ohio version of a Barack Obama building on that personal story that's so compelling that then leads to political success."

Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan hasn't announced whether he's running for Senate but he's been raising money like a potential candidate and even just launched a "Tim for Ohio" website.

"He may own the Democratic primary depending on who else tries to challenge him," said Sutton. "National Democrats are looking at if they get a credible candidate and Ryan would certainly be that, that they will put funding behind that candidate to try to capture that seat."

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and State House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes of Akron are also still considering runs. Former Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton announced last week she will not seek the nomination.