COLUMBUS, Ohio – GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci expressed confidence in Ohio’s elections system during a 25-minute press conference Thursday but pushed for more stringent voter identification rules at the polls.
The former congressman from Medina who represented a north central Ohio district for four terms came out against Ohio Republican Party endorsements that’s a potential topic at the State Central Committee’s meeting this morning. But remains hopeful for an endorsement himself from former President Donald Trump.
Renacci started his telephonic conference talking about his travels to 50 or so of Ohio’s 88 counties and his take-homes from talking to Ohioans on the campaign trail.
“Ohio has fallen behind in many, many ways,” he told the unspecified number of members of the media monitoring the conference. “There’s definitely a concern about the direction of the state.”
During questioning from the news media, Renacci spoke highly of the handing of elections in Ohio.
Renacci, who also serves as Medina County’s GOP party chairman said he joined the Medina County Board of Elections in February and has gained insights into efforts to keep elections free of fraud in Ohio.
“I do believe Ohio has is one of the best,” he said, adding, “I believe there were problems in other states.”
That said, Renacci joined many who think the state needs better voter identification of those heading into the polls.
“We need a photo I.D.” requirement to vote, he said.
In terms of Ohio Republican politics, he said the Ohio GOP State Central Committee should not endorse candidates. That stand has been the mantra in recent months from reformers from within the central committee and grassroots organizations concerned the party will endorse DeWine, who has received considerable financial support from the Ohio GOP even without an endorsement.
Renacci called party endorsements “heavy handed.”
“We don’t believe (political) parties should make endorsements,” he said. “It’s up to people to make that decision.”
One endorsement Renacci does hope to gain is from Trump, whom Renacci endorsed during the 2016 as other congressional Republicans gravitated toward then-Ohio Governor John Kasich. Trump’s endorsement in a special primary election in early August for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District proved vital to Mike Carey, who secured 37 percent of the vote in a crowded race with 11 candidates.
“At this point, Trump is staying out of the governor and U.S. Senate races today,” Renacci told The Ohio Star in a one-on-one interview after the news conference. “That may change in the future.”
Renacci earlier this year tapped Brad Parscale, the 2016 Trump campaign’s digital director and a 2020 campaign manager, as a digital campaign strategist. Parscale was demoted the summer before the 2020 elections and removed as a senior adviser about a month before the election.
A Renacci campaign news release late Thursday afternoon claimed a dozen Trump campaign advisers now work for his run for governor.
“He’s the only Trump supporter in this race,” Parscale said during the press conference.
Federal prosecutors, though, have not charged DeWine in the scandal that broke in July 2020.
FirstEnergy in late July admitted guilt in the scheme focused on former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and agreed to cooperate with the continuing investigation and pay a $230 million fine.
Regarding the FirstEnergy corruption investigation, he said, “The FirstEnergy scandal is wrapped around the governor.”
_ _ _
Brian R. Ball is a veteran journalist reporting for The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Send him news tips at [email protected]