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Jim Renacci Leaves Governor Race To Launch U.S. Senate Bid Instead

Former Ohio Congressman Jim Renacci
Mark Duncan
Associated Press

After the departure of Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel from the U.S. Senate primary, Rep. Jim Renacci announced Thursday that he would launch his own bid for Congress.

"Earlier this week I was asked to attend a meeting at the White House, at which I was asked to help protect the future of President Trump's agenda by entering Ohio's 2018 race for the United States Senate," Renacci wrote in a letter to supporters.

Renacci had been running a campaign for Ohio governor, in a crowded Republican field that also included Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. But after Mandel dropped out of the Senate race to focus on his wife's health, leaving only Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons in the field, many speculated that another Republican would enter.

“I’m trying to think how many people have called me the last few days," said Republican Sen. Rob Portman. "I think it's five different people said they might be interested that either texted or called me. So I think it’ll be a spirited primary.”

Though just a month ago, Renacci announced he would bring on Cincinnati council member Amy Murray as a running mate for governor, in recent weeks Renacci reportedly was waiting for an invitation to switch races.

“As I’ve said many many times, if the president of the United States reaches out and contacts me and asks me to jump in that race, I would consider it only at that point," Renacci told Cleveland radio station WTAM earlier this week.

It seems he got just that.

Renacci and Gibbons will now compete to see who can face incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in the November election. Gibbons recently gave his campaign a $5 million injection of cash, after falling far behind both Brown and Mandel in fundraising. Renacci is listed as the 41st richest member of Congress.

J.D. Vance, the author of "Hillbilly Elegy," is also reportedly mulling a Senate campaign, and apparently so is former Ohio State football coach and current Youngstown State University president Jim Tressel.