Ohio Senate race: Gibbons sues Renacci for defamation over ads

And on the fourth day before the May 8 primary, there were lawsuits.

Republican Senate candidate Mike Gibbons Friday sued fellow Republican Jim Renacci for defamation, saying Renacci has “repeatedly advertised lies and falsehoods about Gibbons and his position on the issues.”

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The suit was filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. The main points of contention appear to be that Renacci, a U.S. Representative who is running for Senate instead of re-election, has asserted that Gibbons, a Cleveland banker, is anti-Trump and would vote pro-choice in Washington.

The lawsuit seems a bit unusual, given that outside groups and candidates themselves frequently tell whoppers – or at the very least exaggerations – about their opponents in political campaigns. But Gibbons is still pressing on, saying in his suit that “Renacci publicly stated as fact materially false information with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard as to its falsity…. The identified statements and others like it are patently false and defamatory per se. Continued publication will result in irreparable harm to Gibbons’ reputation as an honest, trustworthy, pro-life, conservative candidate and supporter of President Trump.”

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The lawsuit alleges that Renacci’s statements about his political opponent “harm Gibbons’ reputation and expose Gibbons to hatred, contempt, ridicule and shame, and will discourage others from associating or dealing with Gibbons.”

The suit argues that Gibbons has suffered “actual and presumed damages” including harm to his reputation, emotional distress, exposure to contempt, ridicule, shame and damage to his business and candidacy.

Renacci spokesman James Slepian called the suit "a predictably sad and desperate end" to Gibbons' campaign.

"Unless Mike Gibbons is suing himself, filing a defamation suit for having his own pro-choice, anti-Trump words quoted back to him shows he’s just as confused about the law as he is about where he stands on abortion," Slepian said.

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