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Trump-backed congressman wins Ohio Senate primary

Greg Nash

Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), a well-known candidate who was backed by President Trump, is projected to win the GOP primary in a top Senate race.

The Associated Press called the race for Renacci at 9:24 p.m.

The congressman defeated his main opponent, investment banker and GOP donor Mike Gibbons, for the Republican nomination. Renacci will now go on to face Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown in November.

Renacci, who has served in Congress since 2011, was widely expected to win the nomination. He was originally running for Ohio governor until leading Republican Senate hopeful Josh Mandel dropped out of the Senate race. Renacci then switched races, framing his decision as prompted by a call from the White House.

Trump formally endorsed Renacci last month, touting the congressman’s work on tax cuts, border security and crackdown on crime and illegal immigration. On the eve of the primary, Trump recorded a robocall saying that Renacci could defeat Brown in the general election.

While Renacci was poised to win the GOP nomination, he was still forced to defend himself against a slew of negative headlines, including reports that he didn’t properly disclose political donations when he was registered as a lobbyist.

Renacci, one of the richest members in Congress, used some of his own money to boost his Senate bid. Renacci’s campaign had announced that he raised more than $4 million in the first three months of the year, but filings with the Federal Election Commission later revealed that the majority of his money came from a personal loan instead of donations.

Republicans view the fight against Brown as a steep uphill battle for the party. Ohio trended red in the 2016 election, with Trump winning the state by 8 points. But the GOP acknowledges that Brown is popular with voters in the state.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) hasn’t said whether he’d campaign for the Republican nominee, citing his working relationship with Brown on trade and the fact that he doesn’t yet know about Renacci’s positions.

Tags Donald Trump Jim Renacci Rob Portman Sherrod Brown

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