The (Findlay) Courier, Jan. 15
Like Ohio’s governor’s race, a statewide race for the U.S. Senate is shaping up to be a dogfight this year. That had long been the forecast, but now the fighters are a bit different.
While latecomers are still possible, for Republicans, the first round will likely be decided in the May when Jim Renacci, currently a U.S. representative, takes on businessman Mike Gibbons, of Cleveland.
If Gibbons remains in the race, which he has given every indication he will, Republican voters will have a choice between a political insider (Renacci) and a self-funded Cleveland investor (Gibbons) who is entering the political ring for the first time.
Many had predicted the 2018 Senate race would come down to battle in November between Democrat incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican Josh Mandel, the current state treasurer.
Both Brown and Mandel have amassed huge campaign war chests to renew a battle that Brown won in 2012.
But in an unexpected move, Mandel changed the lineup last week when he announced he was withdrawing from the race due to unexplained health issues involving his wife.
That development led Renacci, who had been among the GOP candidates for Ohio governor, to switch to the Senate race.
Melissa Ackison, a Columbus business woman, is also planning to run on the Republican ticket and J.D. Vance, a former venture capitalist who wrote the best-selling “Hillbilly Elegy,” is said to be considering a run, as well. They, and others, have until Feb. 7 to decide.
Reports suggest President Trump’s advisers had helped convince Renacci to make the jump, and suggest his support of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign could benefit him in the Senate race.
Gibbons’ candidacy, though, should make for a interesting choice for voters, especially those who are looking for a candidate without Washington connections or a long political resume.
Late last week Gibbons vowed to stay in the race and has said he would add another $5 million to his campaign fund. Renacci, a former mayor, is a four-term Congressman, and someone Gibbons has referred to as a career politician. It remains to be seen how much Trump’s backing will help him.
Gibbons announced his candidacy last summer and hit the ground running. Yesterday he held his sixth town hall meeting of the campaign and already has earned the support of numerous county and township officials around the state.
Such a grassroots effort, while impressive, may not be enough if the national and state Republican Party rally around Renacci. …
The Canton Repository, Jan. 11
Congratulations, Chris Smith.
In a historic, and perhaps somewhat unexpected, sequence of events Monday night, Smith was elected majority leader of Canton City Council.
Historic because Smith, who has served on council since 2008, became the first woman in the city to hold that leadership position. For the past two terms she served as assistant majority leader to Frank Morris.
Unexpected only in that Smith wasn’t sure until recently she would seek the spot Morris had held since 2014.
In fact, it was Morris who nominated Smith for majority leader — in essence, council’s vice president — suggesting to his fellow council members it was the appropriate time to support such a “historic move.”
“We always say we’re going to make change, but let’s really do it this time,” Morris said Monday.
And they did.
When Smith sat with this Editorial Board in October to discuss issues in Ward 4, she talked about “unfinished business” and knowing “the needs and the wants of the residents” as reasons for seeking to retain her seat.
In endorsing her re-election, we cited one of Smith’s assets: the network of relationships she has built in Ward 4 — where she has lived for more than 50 years — with community and church groups, along with the numerous, active neighborhood associations around southeast Canton.
She now will be called on to use that same relationship-building skill across the entire city — with business leaders, Mayor Tom Bernabei and members of his administration, and even at times with her council peers. She received unanimous support Monday, but Smith should prepare herself now for those times when the tough decisions facing the city over the next two years could make forging consensus more difficult.
We know Smith will not back down when facing those challenges.
Congratulations, too, to at-large Councilman Jimmy Babcock, who also was approved by council vote unanimously to serve as Smith’s assistant.
?’Babby’ has been in the community a long time, and he’s always been a public servant and he’s always been committed to helping his neighborhood and moving the city forward,” Smith said.
Entering his seventh year on Canton City Council, Babcock’s love for the city is well documented. He never misses a meeting and has been a strong supporter of the mayor’s office. …
… “I believe that the council members now understand change is what we need, and if all of us work together, we can move the city forward and make it a better place,” Smith said Monday.