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U.S. Senate candidate to make stop

Town hall event at Holiday Inn Feb. 3

For the second time in a month, Lawrence County will be visited by a Republican running for U.S. Senate.

Melissa Ackison, of Marysville, will visit the meeting room at Big Boy at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3 for a town hall event.

The event is free and open to the public.

Ackison, a mother whose insurance troubles were highlighted by the Trump White House, will face Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons and U.S. Jim Renacci in the Republican primary.

The winner will take on incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown in the fall.

Brown was initially expected to face Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel in a rematch of his 2012 race.

However Mandel unexpectedly dropped out this month, citing a health issue his wife is facing, throwing the Republican contest wide open.

“Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance was courted by Republicans in Washington, D.C. for a run, but declined on a campaign.

Gibbons made a visit to Ironton earlier this month. Like Ackison plans to do following her Holiday Inn stop, he appeared on Dave Lucas’ “All Points” Facebook Live program for a follow-up interview. Ackison’s town hall will also air on Facebook.

Brown, who is seeking a third term, last visited Lawrence County in October 2016, when he took part in a roundtable meeting with Ironton Mayor Katrina Keith and local community leaders.

Polling in the Republican primary has not been released since Mandel, who enjoyed a wide lead over his rivals, dropped out of the race.

Hoping to build on President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 in Ohio, Republicans have sought to make Brown a top target in 2018, seeking a pick-up opportunity in a year most analysts predict Democrats could make significant gains in Congress.

Prior to Mandel’s withdrawal, political forecasters Larry Sabato, the Rothenberg Political Report and The Cook Political Report all rated the race as “Leans Democratic.” No updates on their forecast have been made since.