EXCLUSIVE – Sen. Rand Paul is weighing in on the increasingly crowded GOP Senate primary field in Ohio in the 2022 race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman.
Fox News has learned that the two-term, libertarian-minded senator from Kentucky and 2016 Republican presidential contender is endorsing Cleveland businessman and 2018 Ohio Republican Senate candidate Mike Gibbons.
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“Mike Gibbons is a liberty minded, fiscal and constitutional conservative who will stand up for our Bill of Rights and to stop our endless wars. Mike will fight the radical liberal policies being pushed by the Biden Administration by championing smaller, limited government principles in D.C.,” Paul highlighted in an endorsement statement.
Gibbons, an entrepreneur, real estate developer and investment banker, declared his candidacy for the Senate a month ago. “I’m a businessman, not a politician. I’m blunt, plain-spoken, and I tell it like it is,” Gibbons emphasized in his campaign launch video shared nationally first with Fox News.
Gibbons said he was “honored to have the endorsement of Sen. Paul as I look to bring a true conservative voice to Washington. I plan to fight for Ohio values and push back against Democrats’ out-of-touch agenda.”
Paul, who’s up for reelection next year, is expected to travel to Ohio to campaign with Gibbons in the coming months.
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Paul, a key ally of former President Trump, becomes the second Republican senator to weigh in on the GOP race to succeed Portman. In March, conservative Sen. Mike Lee of Utah endorsed former Ohio treasurer and former two-time Senate candidate Josh Mandel.
Among the other declared candidates in the race are former Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken and Cleveland businessman and luxury auto dealership giant Bernie Moreno.
All of the candidates have touted their support for Trump, but the former president has yet to weigh in on the race.
Rep. Mike Turner – a Republican from Dayton – has launched a listening tour to talk with voters about a Senate bid. Among the other Republicans seriously considering running is venture capitalist J.D. Vance, the author of the bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.”
Gibbons spotlighted in his launch video that he “grew up in Parma, a working-class suburb of Cleveland. My father was a high school teacher and a wrestling coach. My grandfather was president of the laborers union.”
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The candidate started his own business at the age of 37, growing his company into the Cleveland-headquartered investment banking firm Brown, Gibbons, Lang and Company. Gibbons highlights that he’s “achieved financial success beyond my wildest imagination. I’ve achieved my American dream. Now I’m running for the U.S. Senate to make sure other people have the ability to achieve their American dream.”
As he jumped into the race, Gibbons pledged to make an initial $5 million infusion of his own money to back up his bid.
Late last month, longtime Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of northeastern Ohio declared his candidacy for the Senate. But the Democrats’ field is likely to be much smaller than the GOP roster of contenders. Former Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton, who mulled a Senate bid, announced she wouldn’t seek the nomination. Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce are also thought to be potential contenders.
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The U.S. Senate is 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 Ohio, the GOP is also defending open seats in the key battlegrounds of North Carolina and Pennsylvania as well as in Missouri and Alabama.