Ohio businessman Mike Gibbons steps down from super PAC as he weighs Senate bid

Ohio businessman Mike Gibbons steps down from super PAC as he weighs Senate bid

Mike Gibbons, an Ohio businessman who unsuccessfully sought the state’s Republican Senate nomination in 2018, is stepping down from his role at the conservative super PAC he founded nearly two years ago, a sign that he is closing in on launching a second Senate bid.

Gibbons announced his resignation from Ohio Strong Action on Thursday. In a statement, Gibbons said that he plans to make a final decision on a Senate campaign “in the next few weeks,” noting that a “number of people” have urged him to run for retiring Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHillicon Valley: Senate report finds major cyber shortcomings in federal agencies | Gig firms seek Mass. ballot question to classify workers as contractors | Blizzard's president steps down after workplace protests Senate report finds major cybersecurity shortcomings among federal agencies The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions MORE’s seat in 2022. 

If he moves forward with a Senate bid, he said, he will immediately inject $5 million of his personal fortune into his campaign.

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“I will be making a final decision about the Senate race in the next few weeks, and if I decide to run, my first act as a candidate will be to make an initial $5 million investment into my own campaign,” Gibbons said.   

If he pulls the trigger on a Senate campaign, Gibbons would enter what is expected to be a crowded Republican primary field to replace Portman, who announced last month that he would not seek a third term in the upper chamber.

Former Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel announced on Wednesday that he would run for Portman’s seat, becoming the first top-tier Republican to jump into the race. Former state GOP chair Jane Timken stepped down from that role last week in a sign that she is gearing up for a Senate bid, as well. 

Other potential candidates include Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversTrump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions Five things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries MORE (R-Ohio) and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. 

Gibbons, an investment banker who co-chaired former President TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE's fundraising efforts in Ohio in 2016, made his first run for the Senate in 2018. That year, however, Trump threw his support behind former Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciGovernors' races see flood of pro-Trump candidates Former House Republican to challenge DeWine for Ohio gubernatorial nomination The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Republicans seek to sink Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Ohio) and Gibbons finished second in the primary.

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After that, Gibbons launched and bankrolled Ohio Strong Action, a super PAC that backed Trump and other Republicans. He spent more than $500,000 last year on Trump-aligned causes. 

Portman’s retirement lays the foundation for a potentially competitive Senate race in the 2022 midterms, when Republicans will have a shot at recapturing their majority in the chamber. 

The state has shifted to the right in recent years, handing Trump its 18 electoral votes in both 2016 and 2020. Democrats, meanwhile, have seen little success there statewide, with the exception of Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownNew spotlight on secretaries of state as electoral battlegrounds Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy MORE (D-Ohio), who won a third term in 2018 when he defeated Renacci by nearly 7 points.

Democrats are hoping to seize on Portman’s retirement to flip control of his seat in 2022. 

The Democratic field is still vacant, though Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanHouse passes spending bill to boost Capitol Police and Hill staffer pay Tim Ryan slams McCarthy for mocking Capitol physician, mask mandate Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections MORE (D-Ohio) is expected to enter the race. Others said to be considering a campaign are former Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman, Ohio state House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and Amy Acton, the former Ohio Health Department director who helped lead the state’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic.