Mike Gibbons believes he may be the person who can wrestle away the U.S. Senate seat held since 2007 by Democrat Sherrod Brown.
“I’m not a career politician. … I’m a businessman,” said Gibbons, an entrepreneur from the Cleveland area who is running on the Republican ticket. “But I absolutely don’t like the people that, A, were running for office, and B, that are in office. … I’m a pretty good match up with (Brown).”
If elected, he said his goals are simple and straightforward.
“I’m going there to get (President Donald) Trump’s agenda passed and to have input on what the agenda should be,” Gibbons said. “I want to take my lifetime of experiences to Washington. I’m not looking for a job.”
Gibbons said he supports the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and was critical of the failed GOP efforts thus far. He said his philosophy regarding foreign policy could be summed up in the phrase “peace through strength.” Gibbons said he would take a tougher stand than Trump on the issue of immigration.
Gibbons said he presents a stark contrast to Brown.
“We all want Americans to be happy, have opportunities, work as hard as they can, and gain the American Dream,” Gibbons said. “The difference is, the route I think that needs to be taken is diametrically opposed to Sherrod Brown’s. I don’t agree with one thing he says usually on how to execute on this. Frankly, I don’t think the people of Ohio do, either.”
To face Brown in the November 2018 general election, however, Gibbons must first defeat Treasurer of State Josh Mandel in the GOP primary on May 8, 2018. Mandel failed to unseat Brown in the 2012 general election, losing 51 percent to 45 percent.
“I’ve supported (Mandel). I’ve donated money to him because he’s the Republican placeholder,” Gibbons said. “But he has name recognition that’s not necessarily good, and I haven’t met 10 people that were strong Josh Mandel supporters; and I’ve talked to thousands of people.”
According to Gibbons, when he announced his candidacy, Mandel approached him to find out why he was running.
“I told him, ‘Josh, because I don’t think you can beat Sherrod Brown,’” Gibbons said.
Gibbons supported Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for president, serving as co-chair of Trump’s fundraising committee in Ohio. He was one of the final three candidates the Trump administration interviewed for the deputy secretary of commerce position.
Gibbons said the county fair circuit has allowed him to reach a broad range of Ohioans. He visited the Delaware County Fair last week.
“I’ve been dealing with business people my whole career and now I’m going out to these rural fairs. It’s like going back in time to my roots,” said Gibbons, who spent summers during his childhood working on his grandfather’s farm in Michigan. “I’ve enjoyed meeting all these people. Where I grew up, in my neighborhood, most of the people were policemen or firemen.”
No other Democrats have filed so far to oppose Brown in the 2018 primary election.