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Trump-endorsed candidate wins Ohio GOP Senate primary

Ohio U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci won the GOP primary election Tuesday, and will challenge sitting Sen. Sherrod Brown this fall. Renacci has been endorsed by President Donald Trump. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Four-term U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci has won Ohio's GOP primary to face off against sitting Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in November, after being endorsed by President Donald Trump.

Renacci is the former mayor of Wadworth and a businessman who beat out four other challengers in the race to be the Republican nominee. With 40 percent of precincts reporting on Tuesday night, the race was called with Renacci garnering 45 percent of the vote. His closest opponent, Mike Gibbons, stood at 33 percent of the vote.

Last week, Gibbons sued Renacci for defamation for allegedly misrepresenting his positions during the race.

The Cincinnati Enquirer is already calling this fall's stand-off between Renacci and Brown "populist versus populist." Renacci, in spite of his time in Congress, successfully branded himself as an outsider in the primary, and has reportedly sided with President Trump's positions 92 percent of the time.

Brown has held his Senate seat since 2007, and recently praised Trump's move to increase tariffs.

The Cook Political Report's Jennifer Duffy said of Brown: "He can embrace populism in a way that allows him to talk trade, allows him to go into the rural more Appalachian part of the state and talk about coal, without getting vilified."

But National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Bob Salera believes Brown shouldn't get too comfortable, saying of Ohio, "It is a state President Trump won by 8 points. We feel the incumbent is out-of-step with the average voters. Generally, if you look at past history, we feel Trump is a net positive in Ohio."

Managing editor of the political publication Sabato's Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik, said of the sitting senator,  "With Ohio changing, Brown cannot leave anything to chance. If Brown were to lose, that probably would mean Democrats were also getting swept in all the statewide races, which would lead one to question — under what circumstances Democrats could win in Ohio again."

In the meantime, Renacci has enjoyed the accolades of the president and vice president, with Trump tweeting in late April, "I need Jim very badly to help our agenda and keep making America great again! He will be a fantastic Senator for the great state of Ohio and has my full endorsement."

Vice President Mike Pence took to Twitter on Tuesday, saying, "Congrats to my friend @JimRenacci on his #OHSen primary win tonight. I was for Jim Renacci before it was cool — back when we served together in the House. @RealDonaldTrump and I are with you & look forward to working with you in the US Senate. #MAGA."

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