ICYMI: Epoch Times Profiles Jim Renacci Running Mate Joe Knopp


"Homeless on the streets of Philadelphia, Knopp and his two sisters stole food to eat and slept in abandoned homes for refuge from the frigid winter."

The Epoch Times just published
 a fascinating dive into Jim Renacci's running mate, Air Force veteran and conservative film producer Joe Knopp. Check out key excerpts from the story below to get to know the next Republican Lieutenant Governor of Ohio!

Joe Knopp’s Decision Impacts Ohio Governor’s Race

Epoch Times
April 12, 2022

As a financial planner turned film producer, Joe Knopp never envisioned going into politics.

That changed last December when the Air Force veteran became former congressman Jim Renacci’s running mate as the duo seeks to unseat Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R) in the May 3 GOP gubernatorial primary.


Renacci, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 to 2019, announced his gubernatorial candidacy in June 2021. He started vetting potential lieutenant governor candidates. Among them were Hood and Knopp.

“During an early conversation with Joe, I told him how Candice Keller kept saying there is someone from southwest Ohio who is conservative and will enter the governor’s race. Joe told me, ‘Jim, that’s me,’” Renacci recalled with a grin.

The lieutenant governor’s search was narrowed to Hood and Knopp, and the latter was Renacci’s choice.

“I was looking for an outsider as my lieutenant governor, somebody who started with nothing and understands what it is to work hard, to not be handed anything,” Renacci added. “Joe is no Ordinary Joe. His movies are inspirational and his life is inspirational.”

Knopp’s personal story is what intrigued Hood, Keller, and Renacci, and it relates to how his journey led to the Ohio gubernatorial race.

Homeless on the streets of Philadelphia, Knopp and his two sisters stole food to eat and slept in abandoned homes for refuge from the frigid winter.

He was 5 and it’s a memory that has never faded.

“My early childhood was surrounded by a lot of abuse and addiction. It was common for the police to be at our house. When I was 5, the police arrived and separated my mom, my two sisters, and I from my father, and we have not seen him since,” Knopp explained.

“My mom was not in a position to raise us and we lived on the street. That is when we had no choice but to steal food to eat, and many times we had to find abandoned homes for shelter.”

One Sunday, Knopp recalled, he and his sisters saw a sign at a church describing how free donuts and orange juice were served at Sunday School.

Wes Whitehead, a Philadelphia architect, saw Knopp and his sisters at church and took notice of the three children who were not accompanied by parents and wore dirty clothes. He took the siblings to an orphanage.

Most children lived there for a year or two until their parents “got it together,” Knopp said. The Knopps saw a different outcome. Their mother was never able to take care of them and they lived at the orphanage through high school graduation.

After high school, Knopp enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in suburban Dayton, Ohio. He remained there for six years, earned a finance degree at night and eventually opened a financial planning firm. That is when a film-producing friend called from Hollywood.

Daryl Lefever, a feature film controller whose studio credits include “X-Men” and “The Polar Express”, decided to focus on producing Christian-themed films.

“He needed help securing financing for Christian films. I was the only finance guy that he knew,” Knopp said. “He called me to help figure out how to get inspirational movies made.”

Knopp and Lefever teamed to create  “Woodlawn”, a movie that was released in 2015 and tells the story of a gifted high school football player who experiences racial tension on and off the field. In 2018, they released “I Can Only Imagine,” which follows the life of MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard and is among the top 10 highest-grossing faith-based films of all time.

Knopp explored ideas for his next project. At the time, the abortion issue was in the news after New York passed a progressive abortion law and Virginia approved a late-term abortion law.

He served as the producer of “Unplanned”, a 2019 documentary that chronicles the life of Abby Johnson, an abortion clinic director turned pro-life activist.

That film introduced Knopp to the political scene. He was invited to the White House by Vice President Mike Pence and met Lara Trump, who is Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law.

Lara Trump is a TV producer, and Knopp saw her from time to time at events.

“She would tell me stories about their family and about women President Trump hired on his campaign team and in his businesses. They were stories media would not share,” Knopp said. “One common saying I kept hearing is ‘I wish people knew the Trump I know.’”

That sparked an idea for the next story Knopp would tell. The result was “The Trump I Know,” a documentary that depicts President Trump from the perspective of Lara Trump and other women in the Trump family, administration, campaign, and business world.

Knopp included a one-on-one interview with Trump, who he said became the first sitting president to appear in a documentary.

Knopp traveled the country speaking at “America First” and pro-life events. The calendar turned from 2020 to 2021, and like many Ohioans, Knopp was displeased with DeWine’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.