CLEVELAND — Sen. Sherrod brown, D.Ohio, is in a tight race. At least three prominent Republicans are considering whether they will enter a primary field. Matt Dolan has been weighing his options for more than two years. He is a well-respected state lawmaker.
Bernie Moreno is a Cleveland-area businessman, who briefly ran for Senate in 2022. In the next weeks, he’s booked to attend several GOP functions, including one that promoted him as a “Potential candidate for US Senate.”
“Don’t replace a career political leader with a career politician?” This week shared information about the event via Twitter from Emily Moreno Miller Miller, Moreno’s daughter. “Be in Batavia (OH) on March 27.”
As both parties fight for control of the Senate, the Ohio contest will be among the most costly and tense in the country. Brown, the only Democrat from Ohio to have had consistent success in statewide elections is considered one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents along with Democratic Senators. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.
Miller’s tweet was directed at Brown, a three-term senator who has held office for most 50 years. Dolan and another potential Republican candidate, Ohio Secretary Of State Frank LaRose, were also targeted by Miller. Dolan, a state senator from Ohio, is a veteran legislator whose family also owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team. LaRose is an Army veteran and was a state senator before he won the first of his two terms in office as secretary of state.
Rachel Petri, Brown’s campaign manager, stated to NBC News that “Ohio workers understand no one works harder than Sherrod Brown.” “That record of fighting for dignity at work will be a stark contrast to whoever the Republicans nominate.”
was a former car dealer. He ended his previous Senate bid months before the primary after meeting with Trump, who determined that the field was too crowded to win. Moreno was a Trump skeptic before the 2016 election. He called him a “maniac”, in private correspondence with a Republican fundraiser two years ago. However, Moreno’s family has become closer to Trump and has formed other alliances that could prove useful in a primary.
His daughter, who was a part of the president’s 2020 campaign, is now married to Max Miller, R.Ohio. Miller was a former Trump aide. Their wedding took place last year at Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey. After dropping out last year Moreno became close to JD Vance (the “Hillbilly Elegy”) author, and earned Trump’s endorsement. According to a source who wasn’t authorized to speak on record, Moreno was a consultant to the campaign and was asked to play Tim Ryan (Vance’s Democratic opponent) in debate preparation.
In a guest article last month, Moreno endorsed Trump as president in 2024. Moreno attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. Moreno didn’t address the attendees, but he did work the corridors, meeting with Trump-friendly activists.
Moreno will be joining Republicans at a pizzeria in Batavia before attending a dinner party in Circleville, south-of Columbus. Moreno will also be joining LaRose at the Northeast Ohio Conservative Club dinner in May.
Meredith Freedhoff of the Franklin County GOP in Columbus said that Moreno is a “very popular grassroots movement” and was “very excited about it”.
Freedhoff said that Moreno is the only potential candidate for the Senate and she expects her organization to endorse the race.
She said that Bernie had reached out to her a few times with information about events he was putting on. “And I have attended some of them. Although he hasn’t yet announced his candidacy for the position, I would be delighted for the sake his grassroots supporters if he did. He is a good man.”
In recent weeks, LaRose has been preparing for a possible campaign. He also visited CPAC where he took part in a panel discussion entitled “They Stole it From Us Legally”. This was with fellow Republicans Abraham Hamadeh as well as Lee Zeldin. These were election deniers that lost their 2022 bids to be New York governor and Arizona attorney general. He was listed as one of the hosts at a dinner hosted by Kari Lake, a Republican who refused to accept her loss in the Arizona governor’s race.
LaRose stated that he doesn’t believe Trump stole the 2020 election, but he received a endorsement for his re-election campaign last year. His CPAC appearance was used to defend Ohio, which Trump won 8 points. It is a state that holds elections in an honest and responsible manner.
LaRose stated that Ohio’s elections were run so well, transparently and honestly that even the loser knows it was a loss in an interview with CPAC’s NBC News.
LaRose does not have a set timetable for a decision but, unlike Dolan or Moreno, he doesn’t have much personal wealth from which to draw if he enters.
“What I am currently exploring is: Can my party be the strongest candidate for this office?” LaRose stated that he has seen polling data that proves that he can.
Warren Davidson, another possible Republican entrant, was given a boost at a private donor retreat for Club for Growth. This conservative organization has been at odds in recent months with Trump. According to two sources, David McIntosh , the president of the organization, called Davidson there and promised to support the group.
Davidson and a political advisor to him didn’t respond to messages this week asking for comment.
Club for Growth could provide resources to help Davidson compete with more well-known and financially stable candidates. Last year, the group backed Josh Mandel (the state’s former treasurer), who came in second to Vance during the primary. Dolan came in third place, and is still running as a traditional conservative while gently encouraging the party to get past Trump.
“Republicans’ primary dynamics have gotten messier by day, and whatever GOP candidate emerges out of their intraparty fights in Ohio will be damaged, and out-of-step with the voters who decide the general election,” stated Nora Keefe (a spokesperson for Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee).
Dolan, unlike Moreno has called for a strong and competitive presidential primary in 2024. Dolan has also had a few months to get started in staffing up and picking up operatives, fundraisers, and others who were active last year’s primary — even those who were not with any other candidates.
“In the very short time Matt Dolan was a candidate,” Chris Maloney, his strategist, said. “He has quickly assembled a top-notch team, recruited grassroots volunteers, and earned more than 100 notable endorsements by Republican leaders across Ohio.”