CLEVELAND — There are now four Republicans running to succeed retiring Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman.
What You Need To Know
- Mike Gibbons becomes the fourth Republican to join Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race
- Gibbons has committed $5 million of his own fortune to the race
- The GOP primary is quickly becoming a litmus test of support for former President Trump
- Gibbons wants to build on Trump’s policies but doesn’t think “our country can be tied to one individual”
Cleveland investment banker and Republican donor Mike Gibbons launched his campaign on Tuesday. He’s hoping his successful business career and deep pockets will help him stand out in a Republican primary that is growing fast.
“I'd like to get rid of the career politicians, get rid of the political operatives and the political insiders, and get real people with real experience in office,” Gibbons told Spectrum News in an interview Tuesday.
This is Gibbons’ second campaign for U.S. Senate.
He first ran in 2018 as a political unknown and lost to former Congressman Jim Renacci in the primary.
Gibbons said that race taught him a lot.
This time around, he’s facing off against former Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken, and Bernie Moreno, another Cleveland businessman.
No Ohio Democrats have formally entered the race yet, but northeast Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D, OH-13) is widely expected to run.
The GOP primary is expected to get even bigger — several sitting U.S. representatives and author J.D. Vance are considering running — and is already focused on catering to former President Donald Trump.
“History will eventually recognize the fact that he was so accurate in his assessment of what America needed,” Gibbons told Spectrum.
Gibbons served as a fundraiser for and donor to the Trump campaign in 2016 and 2020, but insists he’s still a “political outsider.”
He recently went to Florida to attend a fundraiser for former Trump aide Max Miller, who’s running against northeast Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R, OH-16) after Gonzalez voted to impeach Trump.
Gibbons, Mandel, Timken, and Moreno met with the former president while there, though Gibbons argues Trump shouldn’t completely define Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race.
He also doesn’t fully support Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him. Gibbons told Spectrum that fraud should be investigated, but he hasn’t seen evidence of it being widespread.
“I don't think our country can be tied to one individual. I think what it should be is tied to the policies that he so rightly enacted,” Gibbons said.
This race is going to get expensive, and Gibbons is prepared to spend a lot of his own money on it. He told Spectrum he’s committed $5 million to his campaign and is capable of spending more if need be.
But money doesn’t equal name recognition, which Gibbons has to build.
He’s campaigning on supporting American businesses and bringing jobs back to the U.S., while also touching on the popular Republican talking point of stopping cancel culture.
Gibbons argues his experience negotiating throughout his business career is what sets him apart.
“Frankly, that's what you're doing as a senator, you are selling your ideas and you are communicating those ideas,” Gibbons said. “I've done that every day of my career.”