- Laura A. Bischoff Columbus bureau
Positioning himself as businessman who operates outside politics as usual, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, announced that he is running for governor in 2018 and he unveiled his campaign slogan: OhioFirst.
Renacci, who strongly backed Republican Donald Trump for president last year, is serving his fourth term in Congress. Before entering politics, though, he owned nursing homes and other business ventures over three decades.
“I was a business guy for 30 years, someone who created jobs and employed people. I want to use that background and experience. I do believe Donald Trump said the same thing. I supported Donald Trump because I believe the day of the career politicians, expecially in D.C. but also here in Ohio, needs to change,” Renacci said.
Can Renacci count on support from President Trump? “We’ll see where he steps in but I do know that he knows I’m supportive of him trying to change some things in Washington and hopefully he’ll be one that’ll support me as I move down the road,” Renacci said.
Renacci said as governor he will focus on jobs, regulatory reform and ending political corruption in Columbus, including allowing officeholders from awarding government contracts to campaign contributors.
“I don’t believe that politicians should get campaign contributions and then turn around and give them government contracts. There are a number of situattions where I’ve learned that is occuring in the state. That needs to stop,” he said.
Renacci, a father of three, grew up in a blue collar family in western Pennsylvania and was the first in his family to graduate college. He paid his way through school by working as a truck driver, mechanic and on a road crew and began his career as an accountant before shifting to business management and ownership. He was a volunteer firefighters, city councilman and mayor in Wadsworth.
He opposes abortion, capital punishment and gay marriage but supports Trump’s proposals to build a wall on the border with Mexico, impose a temporary travel ban and repeal and replace Obamacare.
Roll Call, a news service that covers Congress, ranks Renacci as the 13th richest member of Congress and the wealthiest member from Ohio with a net worth of $31.6 million.
Renacci is the second Republican to jump into the gubernatorial race — Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor was the first. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted are expected to announce their plans soon.
On the Democratic side, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, former Congresswoman Betty Sutton of the Akron area and former state Rep. Connie Pillich of Cincinnati have all announced they’re running for governor. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has said she is strongly considering running as well.