CLEVELAND - The decision of Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH) to run first for governor then for U.S. Senate created something as rare as an opening on the U.S. Supreme Court and that is an open Ohio seat in Congress.
Renacci won the 16th district seat in 2012 in a head-to-head battle with former Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton after their seats were merged. The drawing of the lines is what makes the GOP primary the focus.
"Between the demographics of this state, heavily Republican and the fact that the Democrats aren't putting anything into this, this primary really will determine who's going to win in the general and it will the Republican," said News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University.
It's a primary battle that essentially comes down to two choices said Sutton. "So we got Christina Hagan, the 29-year-old state representative, very closely aligned with Donald Trump from the very beginning when he announced his candidacy. She's had people like [former Trump Communications Director Anthony] Scaramucci and Sebastion Gorka who have helped fundraise for her, she's also gotten support from Mark Meadows the head of the Freedom Caucus and Ohio's Congressman Jim Jordan also Freedom Caucus founder.
"Then we have Anthony Gonzalez who is the former Ohio State star and also played for the Indianapolis Colts. He's backed by Congressman Bob Gibbs Republican from Ohio and is seen as maybe not moderate but he's certainly a political newcomer but someone who has a huge fundraising advantage."
Numbers released this week after Sunday's FEC filing deadline show that advantage for Gonzalez having raised $1.1 million with $703,682 cash on hand compared to Hagan's $382,854 with $184,094 in available cash.
"That's a very strong advantage," Sutton said, "and I think we're going to see a lot of advertising between now and May 8."
"This is going to be a bellwether for determining the degree to which Trump support is deep at the local level in what is considered a safe Republican seat and whether they go for Gonzalez or clearly the one who is aligning herself with Trump that's going tell us a lot about what Trump support means in these other races."