In January 2019, Renacci founded the Ohio's Future Foundation, a political nonprofit dedicated to advocating “business related policies that will make Ohio first.” He was also named chair of the Medina County Republican Party last year.
He has broadly criticized DeWine for his leadership of the state and pledged to fix the state if elected. In a March fundraising email, Renacci said that the state had significant policy challenges even before the coronavirus crisis hit in early 2020.
“We are losing Jobs & Population and our Tax System is out of control. Our education system is Ohio is broken. Our constitutional rights and liberties are being threatened,” he wrote to supporters. “Immigration and refugee policy from Governor DeWine is hampering our cities, towns and law enforcement.”
Renacci faced criticism for a number of past campaign finance irregularities that came to light during his losing Senate campaign. Those included failing to report more than $50,000 in donations as a registered lobbyist and improperly accounting for flights on a Cleveland strip club owner's plane that he took during his gubernatorial run. Renacci's campaign characterized both issues at the time as paperwork glitches.
The Ohio Democratic Party dubbed Renacci “a two-time loser,” and said his candidacy forebodes Republican divisions setting up a tough primary for DeWine.
“Jim Renacci flew across the state in a private plane owned by a strip club owner, and still has a shot in a Republican primary against Mike DeWine,” spokesperson Matt Keyes said in a statement. "The fact that Renacci is even in this race says a lot about the amount of support left for Mike DeWine in Ohio.”
FILE - Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, gives an interview at the Church of the Nazarene Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Wadsworth, Ohio. The former four-term congressman plans to challenge Gov. Mike DeWine in next year's Republican primary. Renacci announced his bid for the GOP nomination Wednesday, June 9, 2021 on WTAM 1100 and on his website. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, file)
Credit: Ron Schwane
Credit: Ron Schwane