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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 PortmanKellyanne Conway joins Ohio Senate candidate's campaign OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds Senate confirms Biden's pick to lead White House environmental council 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 StiversFormer Ohio health director won't run for Senate Ohio Democrat Danny O'Connor won't seek Portman's Senate seat Meeting between Trump, Ohio Senate candidates turns tense: report MORE (R-Ohio) and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. 

Gibbons, an investment banker who co-chaired former President TrumpDonald TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report 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. RenacciOhio businessman Mike Gibbons steps down from super PAC as he weighs Senate bid Democrats face tough odds in race for Ohio Senate seat Democrats will expand their Senate majority in 2022 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 BrownDemocratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Big bank CEOS to testify before Congress in May Democrats get good news from IRS 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) RyanBusinessman Mike Gibbons jumps into GOP Senate race in Ohio Biden's gun control push poses danger for midterms Trump faces test of power with early endorsements 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.