Ohio Rep. James B. Renacci is running for governor in 2018 and will leave behind a Republican seat in the 16th District.
The four-term congressman made the announcement Monday morning in an introductory video playing up his business credentials and touting himself as an outsider in the mold of President Donald Trump, whom he backed during last year’s election.
“It’s essential that we get career politicians out of the way,” Renacci says in the video, with footage of him talking with voters spliced together with footage of him riding a motorcycle.
Incumbent Republican Gov. John Kasich is term-limited.
Renacci, an accountant, was the 15th wealthiest member of Congress in Roll Call’s 2015 Wealth of Congress index. At the time, he had at least a half-million dollars invested in Harley Davidson dealerships.
He’ll benefit from a super PAC called “Ohio First,” which filed with the Federal Elections Commission on Monday.
Trump won Renacci’s seat by 17 points last fall. The 16th District was drawn to favor the Republican after the last round of redistricting. Since 2012, when he defeated Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton in a member-on-member race, Renacci has comfortably won re-election. He won by more than 30 points last fall.
Among the Republicans that party operatives have mentioned for his seat is Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who is exploring a run for governor herself. She could switch to a congressional bid to avoid a crowded GOP gubernatorial primary.
Also in the mix for the 16th district could be state Reps. Christina Hagan and Tom Patton, a former state senator with support in the Cleveland suburbs.
Republicans recently tested the field with a survey of 400 likely GOP voters in the district. The results of that survey, reported by Cleveland.com, showed Taylor in first place at 18 percent, followed by Patton at 13 percent. Undecided likely voters made up 21 percent. The poll’s margin of error was 5 percentage points.
Cleveland.com also mentions state Sen. Frank LaRose, who came in third place in the poll and has previously signaled he’d be interested in the seat, and Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chairman Rob Frost, who came in fourth.
Ohio state Senate president Larry Obhof, state Rep. Scott Wiggam, a former Wayne County commissioner, and state Rep. Kristina Roegner were also tested in the poll. Cleveland.com also mentions Ron Amstutz, a Wayne County commissioner and former state legislator, because of his high name recognition in the area.
Democrats would face an uphill battle in this district, which Mitt Romney carried by 8 points in 2012 and Arizona Sen. John McCain won by 4 points in 2008 in presidential bids. But Cleveland.com suggests former Parma Mayor Dean DePiero may have his eye on the seat. Sutton announced earlier this month she is running for governor.