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Ohio Congressman Jim Renacci jumps in U.S. Senate race

He is leaving governor race in effort to take on Sen. Sherrod Brown

Republican Jim Renacci is dropping his gubernatorial campaign to start running for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, he said today.

Renacci, a Congressman and business owner from Wadsworth, met with White House political staff and the National Republican Senate Committee on Wednesday. White House officials strongly encouraged Renacci to run for the Senate, said one source close to the Trump administration.

“I’ve agreed to answer the call to service and enter the race for United States Senate,” Renacci said.

Renacci said his previous lieutenant governor pick Amy Murray will chair his Senate campaign.

Related: If Trump asks, Renacci would run for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat

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The NRSC generally stays neutral in GOP primary races but a source close to the Renacci campaign said the meeting “went very well.”

Renacci was in a three-way primary race for Ohio governor along with Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Attorney General Mike DeWine.

He now faces Cleveland area businessman Mike Gibbons, who has been running a credible campaign for months and just pledged $5 million of his own money toward the race.

Best-selling author J.D. Vance, a Middletown native, is giving the race serious consideration.

The Republican nominee will take on two-term incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown in November.

On Friday, Republican front runner Josh Mandel abruptly dropped out of the Senate race, citing serious health issues with his wife.

Related: Mandel drops out of race against Sherrod Brown

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