Trump-endorsed Ohio Senate candidate responds to million-dollar lawsuit filed by opponent

A Senate-candidate, backed by President Donald Trump, is facing a million-dollar lawsuit, for what his opponent calls “defamatory statements.”

Congressman Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, is hoping to win the state’s Republican primary on Tuesday and face off against incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown in November.

Political analysts say Renacci is favored to win the primary. If he does, he may also need to fight off a lawsuit – from one of his Republican opponents, investment banker and businessman Mike Gibbons.

“Mr. Gibbons has decided to do something that’s kind of unusual in politics, but it is what it is,” Renacci said. “My big concern is really the people of Ohio and making sure that we move forward and get the right message out.”

When asked if there is any validity to the lawsuit, Renacci told Fox News: “I’ve never been in politics, until seven years ago, and I learned people can say anything about you. I’ve had that done to me in three elections in the past. In the end, you just gotta have tough skin and move forward. I think he’ll have to learn that in the future.”

According to court documents, Gibbons filed the lawsuit last Thursday, May 4.

Gibbons told Fox News that Renacci is a “bully.”

“I believe the voters are tired of what's going on and, Jim Renacci, I have hundreds of pages of his lawsuits,” Gibbons said. “He's a bully, he's wealthy guy that bullies people with lawsuits. It's time to give him a little of his own medicine.”

Gibbons claims Renacci has falsely accused him of being pro-choice, anti-Trump, and “ideologically flexible.”

Gibbons said he’s pro-life — and to him the accusation is vicious and personal.

In court documents, obtained by Fox News, Gibbons says he has suffered “harm to his reputation, emotional distress, exposure to contempt, ridicule, shame, and damage to his business and candidacy,” and that, “in making the defamatory statements… Renacci acted with actual malice and is thus responsible for punitive damages.”

Gibbons is asking the courts for $1 million in punitive damages.

Whoever wins on Tuesday – will challenge Brown, the incumbent Democrat. According to Fox News analysis, the race “leans Democrat.”