Renacci served as the Representative for Ohio’s 16th Congressional District from 2011-19.
A former four-term congressman from northeast Ohio plans to run against Governor Mike DeWine in next year’s Republican primary.
Former US MP Jim Renacci, 62, a businessman and former mayor of Wadsworth who served in Congress from 2011 to 2019, announced his application for the GOP nomination on WTAM 1100 and on its website on Wednesday.
He is the first serious Republican challenger to the anticipated re-election bid from DeWine, a former attorney general, U.S. senator and lieutenant governor. Dayton’s Mayor Nan Whaley is running for Democrat.
In comments on news radio, Renacci questioned DeWine’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying he had Dr. Amy Acton never hired as his health director. Prior to her resignation last June, Acton received national praise for her role alongside DeWine in the early days of COVID-19, while drawing the ire of conservatives who criticized DeWine’s approach as excessive.
When asked during a press conference Thursday what message DeWine had for voters after Renacci’s offer, he simply defended his response to the pandemic, partially saying, “We’re now trying to put this pandemic in the rearview mirror and Ohio is coming out strong, and I feel good – to be honest, very, very good – where we are. ”
“I will set out my vision for the future, the state of Ohio, as we move forward,” added DeWine.
Renacci was running for governor in 2017 before being assisted by then-President Donald Trump to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown when Republican Josh Mandel suddenly left the Senate race, citing his wife’s health. Renacci lost to Brown.
In January 2019, Renacci founded the Ohio’s Future Foundation, a political nonprofit that advocates “business-related guidelines that put Ohio first”. Last year he was also named chairman of the Medina County’s Republican Party.
He has generally criticized DeWine for his leadership of the state and promised to fix the state if he is elected. In a donation email in March, Renacci said the state was facing significant political challenges even before the coronavirus crisis erupted in early 2020.
“We are losing jobs and people and our tax system is out of control. Our education system is broken in Ohio. Our constitutional rights and freedoms are threatened, ”he wrote to supporters. “Governor DeWine’s immigration and refugee policies are hindering our cities and towns and law enforcement.”
Renacci has been criticized for a number of campaign funding irregularities that came to light during his lost Senate campaign. These included failing to report more than $ 50,000 in donations as a registered lobbyist and not properly accounting for a Cleveland strip club owner’s airplane flight he took on during his gubernatorial run. Renacci’s campaign described both problems as paperwork glitches at the time.
The Ohio Democratic Party called Renacci a “two-time loser” and said his candidacy indicates that Republican divisions are putting up a tough primary for DeWine.
“Jim Renacci flew across the state in a strip club owner’s private plane and still has a chance in a Republican primary against Mike DeWine,” said spokesman Matt Keyes in a statement. “The fact that Renacci is even in this race says a lot about how much support Mike DeWine has left in Ohio.”