EXCLUSIVE: Cleveland businessman and 2018 Ohio Republican Senate candidate Mike Gibbons on Tuesday launched a second bid for the Senate.

“I’m a businessman, not a politician. I’m blunt, plain spoken, and I tell it like it is,” Gibbons emphasized in a video shared nationally first with Fox News as he announced his candidacy in the 2022 race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman.

Gibbons becomes the latest contender to formally jump into the increasingly crowded GOP Senate primary field, following former state GOP chair Jane Timken, former state treasurer and former two-time Senate candidate Josh Mandel, and Cleveland businessman and luxury auto dealership giant Bernie Moreno, who launched his campaign last week.

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Ohio was once a top general election battleground state, but former President Trump won it by eight points in both his 2016 White House victory and in last year’s reelection defeat. Nearly all of the candidates and likely contenders in the 2022 GOP race have strongly spotlighted their support for the former president.

Gibbons served as Ohio finance co-chair for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and contributed to Trump’s 2020 reelection bid. He stressed in the video that “the left is working around the clock to destroy everything President Trump accomplished during his time in office… they’re counting on us to go away – to cower before the power of Washington, D.C., and their media enablers. But I’m not going anywhere. I’m ready for battle.”

“I believe that we need to stand up to the cancel culture and the lies of those who seek to divide us,” Gibbons said as he showcased his conservative platform. “I believe that families matter. Churches matter. Neighborhoods and small towns matter. I believe that we need to secure our borders, stand for life, and defend our 2nd Amendment rights.”

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In his video, Gibbons spotlighted that he “grew up in Parma, a working-class suburb of Cleveland. My father was a high school teacher and a wrestling coach. My grandfather was president of the laborers union.”

He noted that “I started my own business at the age of 37, working alone in a small office with just a phone and a desk.”

Gibbons went on to grow that company into the Cleveland-headquartered investment banking firm Brown, Gibbons, Lang and Company. Highlighting his business success, he emphasized, “I believe that politicians don’t create jobs, businesses do. I know because I’ve done it.”

And he shared that “I’ve achieved financial success beyond my wildest imagination. I’ve achieved my American dream. Now I’m running for the U.S. Senate to make sure other people have the ability to achieve their American dream.”

Ohio businessman Mike Gibbons in a campaign video announcing his candidacy for the Republican Senate nomination on April 13, 2021

Ohio businessman Mike Gibbons in a campaign video announcing his candidacy for the Republican Senate nomination on April 13, 2021

In a release, Gibbons’ campaign touted that the candidate’s investment firm helped “dozens of homegrown Ohio companies expand and add jobs, providing strategic and financial advice and much needed capital.”

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Gibbons has said he’ll also heavily invest in his own campaign, pledging to make an initial $5 million infusion of his own money to back up his bid.

But Gibbons isn’t the only Republican contender who can dip into deep pockets to help finance their campaign. Moreno also has plenty of resources to tap, and last month PayPal co-founder and billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel contributed $10 million of his own money into a super PAC that would support Vance if he runs. Meanwhile, Mandel started his 2020 bid with $4.5 million cash on hand left over from his past campaigns, and Timken raised $2.1 million in the first six weeks of her Senate campaign.

In the race for the Democratic nomination, longtime Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of northeast Ohio is likely to launch a campaign, with a handful of other Democrats considered potential contenders.

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The U.S. Senate is currently split 50-50 between the two parties, but the Democrats hold a razor-thin majority due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, who serves as president of the Senate. That means the GOP only needs a one-seat pickup to regain the majority.

But Republicans are defending 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs in 2022. Besides Ohio, the GOP is also defending open seats in the key battlegrounds of North Carolina and Pennsylvania as well as in Missouri and Alabama.