Renacci: ‘Unknown’ status is a benefit in governor race

Usually when you haven’t heard of a political candidate for office, that doesn’t bode well for their chances, but U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci says that’s one of his top selling points in his bid for Ohio governor.

Renacci, R-Wadsworth, compared to his political opponents, is a relative unknown in Ohio politics. His political resume includes a four-year tenure as mayor of Wadsworth and a four-term Ohio congressman.

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“When people say, ‘We don’t know who you are,’ that’s good because if they’d know who I was I would be part of the problem,” he said. “I’m not part of the problem.”

Renacci told the Journal-News during a campaign stop this week in Butler County that if voters are happy with Ohio being one of the “most-left states” and a top state when it comes to opioid addiction, “then talk with those people. They’re part of the problem.”

Those people, he said, are his 2018 gubernatorial opponents: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted and Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.

“Career politicians have put us in this situation,” said Renacci, who touts being the first Ohio Congressman to endorse President Donald Trump ahead of Ohio’s presidential primary in March 2016. “If you’re happy with the direction Ohio’s going, you should go talk to them.”

“I understand what is is to create a job, I understand what it is to make a payroll, I understand what it is to employ 3,000 people,” he said. “If you listen to my three opponents, they’ve talked about it. I’ve lived it.”

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Renacci, 58, was born in Monongahela, Pa., before moving to Ohio 34 years ago and starting his first business as a 24-year-old. He said he’s lived the American dream “and Ohio gave me that opportunity.”

Renacci, who is among the richest members of Congress, made his money before being elected in 2010. According to the Capitol Hill news agency Roll Call, Renacci ranks 13th among U.S. House members with a net worth of more than $31.6 million.

Before his time in Congress, he served as the mayor of Wadsworth from 2004 to 2008.

Renacci said Ohio is going in the wrong direction and fixing the problems starts with the companies that are in Ohio.

“You’re never going to hear me say we need to go outside and bring companies in,” said Renacci. “What we need to do is to take the companies that are here and help them grow and prosper. And we need to be able to find out what regulations are hurting them, what taxes are hurting them, why can’t they grow and why can’t they expand and we need to fix that.”

Secondly, he said he’s not worried about educating from kindergarten on up, or the jobs of the future. He wants to reward the schools starting in the sixth grade “to direct children toward skill sets, not test sets.”

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“We worry about graduation rates, I’m worrying about skill sets,” Renacci said. “We have plenty of jobs in Ohio, the problem is we’re not training our kids and educating our kids to the jobs of Ohio today. Sure there are jobs of the future, but we have jobs today.”

And fixing education and jobs, that helps with fixing Ohio’s biggest problem, the opioid epidemic.

“If you start in 6th grade, and you start to show them opportunities for internships and mentorships and it keeps them out of the drug situation,” Renacci said. “”We have to show our kids that a blue-collar job is a career and just as important as a white-collar job.”

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