EXCLUSIVE – Cleveland businessman and 2018 Ohio Republican Senate candidate Mike Gibbons is taking a major step toward launching a second bid for the Senate.
Gibbons on Monday is kicking off a listening tour to talk with voters in Ohio as he launches the exploratory phase of what will likely turn into a formal campaign in the 2022 race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman.
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In a video that was shared nationally first with Fox News, Gibbons explained that “over the next few weeks, I’m going to be traveling throughout Ohio, listening to your concerns and answering your questions. I’ve achieved my American dream. We need men and women of principle who are willing to invest in America again to help others achieve their American cream. I hope you’ll join me in this fight.”
Gibbons spotlights his working class upbringing in the video, standing outside the modest two-family home in Cleveland where he was raised as child. The son of a high school teacher and wrestling coach, Gibbons went on to found the Cleveland-headquartered investment banking firm Brown, Gibbons, Lang and Company.
“I worked my way up in business, eventually starting my own company that employees hard-working Ohioans and invests in our community. Focusing on family, hard work, and a willingness to take risk has helped me achieve my American dream,” Gibbons said in his video.
In a statement to Fox News, Gibbons touted his business credentials, saying that “this listening tour will allow me the opportunity to meet directly with the voters who understand that we can’t afford to send another politician or party insider to Washington. We need to send someone with a business background who’s unafraid to stand up to his own party and tell the truth.”
Gibbons also spotlighted that since Portman’s announcement in late January that he wouldn’t seek a third term in the Senate, “I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of phone calls I’ve received from conservative activists, elected officials, and business leaders encouraging me to run to represent Ohio in the Senate.”
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Gibbons last month stepped down from Ohio Strong Action, the conservative super PAC he created nearly two years ago, and he moved toward launching a Senate campaign. At the time, he said in statement that “if I decide to run, my first act as a candidate will be to make an initial $5 million investment into my own campaign.”
If he formally becomes a candidate, as expected, Gibbons would be the third strong supporter of former President Donald Trump to seek the GOP nomination. The two major Republican candidates to already jump into the race – former state GOP chair Jane Timken and former state treasurer and former Senate candidate Josh Mandel – have both made their support for Trump centerpieces of their campaigns. And more than a half dozen other Republicans, including Rep. Warren Davidson, are mulling bids.
Trump won Ohio, which was once a crucial presidential battleground state, by eight points in both his 2016 White House victory and in last year’s reelection defeat.
Longtime Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of northeast Ohio is likely to launch a campaign, with a handful of other Democrats considered potential contenders.
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The U.S. Senate is currently split 50-50 between the two parties, but the Democrats hold a razor thin majority, due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, who serves as president of the Senate. That means the GOP only needs a one-seat pickup to regain the majority.
But Republicans are defending 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs in 2022. Besides Portman, the GOP is also defending open seats in the key battlegrounds of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, as well as in Missouri and Alabama.