Rep. Jim Renacci projected to win Ohio GOP Senate primary, will take on Sen. Sherrod Brown: NBC News

Key Points
  • Rep. Jim Renacci is projected to win the Ohio GOP Senate primary, according to NBC News.
  • He is projected to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, who ran unopposed.

Rep. Jim Renacci is projected to win the Ohio GOP Senate primary, setting him up to take on Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in November, according to NBC News.

Renacci, 59, is projected to defeat businessman Mike Gibbons. He has Trump's backing and has at times had to go against his previous stances on issues such as trade to align with the president's views.

Brown, who has preached populist policies that sometimes align with President Donald Trump, has held the seat since 2006. He is one of 10 Democrats running this year in states Trump won in 2016.

However, Brown appears to be safer than some of his Democratic colleagues such as Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, whose states are also choosing GOP challengers Tuesday. Trump won Ohio by fewer than 10 percentage points.

Renacci faces some messaging problems in trying to cast himself as a Trump candidate. The president has slammed trade agreements as harmful for workers in Rust Belt states such as Ohio. He proposed stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Renacci has previously supported free trade deals, but showed more deference to Trump as a Senate candidate. Brown has long railed against them.

In a statement after Renacci's projected win, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein argued the congressman is "always putting himself first ahead of Ohio – and we are confident voters will hold him accountable."