Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), a late entry to his state's Senate race, will have to improve on a mediocre showing during the Republican primary in order to beat incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in November.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Renacci beat primary opponent Mike Gibbons even though more than 400,000 state Republicans voted for other candidates.
"I feel the congressman has got a lot of ground to make up," Mike Bundo, a Republican strategist, told the Enquirer.
What's the story?
Renacci initially had his sights set on being governor, and only joined the Senate race after the Republican favorite, Josh Mandel, dropped out abruptly in January due to his wife's health.
He beat Gibbons 47 percent to 32 percent, but Gibbons did a lot of damage across the state, winning 37 counties. Renacci was aided by wins in densely populated Cincinnati and Cleveland, and an endorsement from President Donald Trump.
"Ohio is a Trump state, Ohio is going to move forward with the Trump agenda, and Ohio is going to get anybody that's an obstacle, including Sen. Brown, out of the way," Renacci said, according to WOSU Radio.
Part of Renacci's disadvantage, according to some in the state, is recognition. Gibbons was well known from visiting all 88 counties in the state, something Renacci will have to do as well.
"For every one time I'd see Jim Renacci, I'd see Mike Gibbons a dozen times," said state Sen. Jay Hottinger to the Enquirer. "It would bode well for Renacci to steal that portion of Gibbons' playbook. Be visible."
Senate race leans toward Brown
According to The Cook Political Report, the Ohio Senate race leans in favor of the Democrat Brown, who has been in office since 2007 and beat Mandel handily in 2012.
Brown is a potential candidate to run for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election, a race that will likely see the party continue to push left on issues such as the economy and health care.