Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Marco Rubio endorses Anthony Gonzalez in Ohio congressional race

Anthony Gonzalez, who is running for Ohio's 16th Congressional District, is seen in a 2006 file photo. (Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press)

By Andrew J. Tobias,

December 5, 2017

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Anthony Gonzalez has landed an endorsement from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the race for Ohio's 16th Congressional District, in the latest sign that his candidacy is gaining support from the broader Republican establishment.

Rubio's endorsement follows a phone conversation between the two about a month ago, according to aides. In a statement, Rubio said Gonzalez "is exactly the type of young, public-spirited conservative we need more of in Washington."

In his own statement, Gonzalez, a former Ohio State University football star and ex-NFL player, said: "As a fellow Cuban American, I have been a long-time follower of Marco's career in the Senate and I have always appreciated his work to empower the middle class, strengthen our military and champion a pro-growth economy."

Even though he is a first-time candidate, Gonzalez, 33, has taken a tried-and-tested approach to campaigning for the 16th District by seeking political endorsements and building a donor network. The seat currently is represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who is running for governor instead of re-election.

Gonzalez has gotten support major donors within the 16th District, including the influential Timken family, and from U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, whose district is directly west of the 16th. Last month, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the political arm of U.S. House Republicans, recognized Gonzalez for his fundraising and campaigning efforts.

Gonzalez's approach contrasts with that of major Republican candidate for the 16th District, 28-year-old Stark County State Rep. Christina Hagan. Hagan's campaign has modeled itself after the insurgent approach President Donald Trump took in his successful run for the White House last year, focusing on building a social media presence, making media appearances, emphasizing socially conservative and nationalist positions, and soliciting support from pro-Trump figures.

On Monday, the Hagan campaign announced she will hold a "campaign rally"/ fundraiser in Stark County on Dec. 15 in Louisville. The event will feature two pro-Trump figures who have endorsed her -- Sebastian Gorka, the former Trump national security aide and the Rev. Darrell Scott, a Cleveland Heights pastor who is close with Trump and his allies. It also promises a "surprise special guest." The eventwill be hosted by members of the Sarchione family, who own auto dealerships in the area, and requires a $100 minimum donation.

Rubio's endorsement of Gonzalez is among the first of a string of national U.S. House endorsements that Rubio plans to make, an aide said. Rubio, who lost the presidential nomination to Trump last year, also has endorsed Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel in his run for the U.S. Senate. Mandel endorsed Rubio in the primary last year.

Other candidates for the 16th District seat include Republican Kit Seryak, an Army veteran and Democrats Jennifer Herold, an occupational therapist from Strongsville and Aaron Godfrey, a physicist from North Olmsted.

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