Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Ohio’s GOP Senate primary turns nasty as Trump’s candidate tries to fend off rivals

By 37ci3 Mar6,2024

CLEVELAND – Donald Trump Endorsed Bernie Moreno clashed with the businessman in an Ohio Senate primary in December that featured two more prominent Republicans.

But with less than two weeks to go before the primary, the race has become increasingly hostile as it remains in a competitive fog.

Several independent polls were conducted to gauge the three candidates vying for a chance to defeat Democrat Sherrod Brown in what is expected to be one of the best Senate battles this fall. one internal survey Last week, Moreno’s campaign posted double-digit leads over Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Sen. Matt Dolan, but that too has been found. about a quarter of likely primary voters were undecided. Other close observers believe that the first place is tougher.

“From everything I’ve seen in both the public and private polls, as well as talking to people on the ground, the Senate race looks like a dead heat,” said GOP strategist Scott Guthrie, a veteran of Ohio Senate campaigns who is unmatched by any candidate here this cycle. “I’ve seen polls where each candidate is leading and everyone is within the margin of error.”

The three candidates are set to meet for a final debate on Wednesday. While a rally with Trump could help push Moreno over the finish line, a source close to the former president told NBC News that the Ohio trip is “very difficult” before March 19, but declined to elaborate.

In recent days, the level of vitriol has approached unrestrained impurity appears in the state 2022 Republican Senate Primary, JD Vance won After Trump’s game-changing endorsement. Operatives supporting LaRose and Dolan see the aggressive attacks by Moreno and his allies, as well as other incidents, as evidence of a wide-open race this year in which the Trump-backed candidate is having a harder time making his case.

A new announcement Moreno brands both Dolan and LaRose as anti-Trump clones of Nikki Haley in a state where loyalty to the former president runs deep. Moreno’s allies in the Growth Club Dolan is being attacked from the air to raise the gas tax that he – and many other Republicans In the Ohio Legislature – supported five years ago.

Meanwhile, pro-LaRose Leadership for Ohio received a late cash infusion that strategist Joel Ritter said would initially keep the super PAC afloat. of the group new announcement Includes footage from a 2019 interview Moreno asked if you “really need 100 rounds” in your gun. Moreno, who is there moved to the right on several issues as he seeks elected office, he now describes himself as an ardent supporter of gun rights.

“If Bernie and his team really thought they were up by 10 points, I think they would have acted very differently in the last few days,” LaRose spokesman Rich Gorka said.

“The closing depends on the candidate,” Gorka added, noting Moreno’s experience as a car salesman. “I know he was a good car salesman, but he’s clearly out of touch with voters.”

Dolan strategist Chris Maloney made a similar move on Moreno.

“In two weeks, his image is cratered and his attacks are unrelated to his inflated poll numbers,” Maloney said. “He should go back to selling cars because he’s proven he can’t sell himself.”

When asked how Moreno viewed the race, spokesman Reagan McCarthy described it as a fight against the “RINO establishment” — using an acronym for “Republican in Name Only” to highlight the endorsements of Trump, Vance and others. Rap Jim JordanR-Ohio.

“If the Dolan and LaRose campaigns think they can continue smearing us with left-wing media lies without us responding, they’re wrong,” McCarthy said. “Ohioans are tired of RINO career politicians like LaRose and Dolan and want to send another political outsider and businessman to the US Senate to join President Trump, Senator Vance and Congressman Jordan.”

Sniping among the candidates’ advisers and allies has been particularly intense since last weekend.

Vance on Saturday Xi threatened Stopping support without naming any legislation or bills that “fight Trump and the candidates he supports,” LaRose responded: It highlights Moreno’s past moderate views on gun control. Vance, who is friends with LaRose has deteriorated in the initial stage, returned fire drawing attention to the Secretary of State Past support from LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffmantop Democratic donor.

Gorka then mocked Vance for “reader context” flag – “Vance publicly called Trump ‘stupid’, ‘crazy’ and ‘harmful'” – added to original X post. Donald Trump Jr. and several others Trump’s allies popular with right online jumped in social media is also involved. The son of the former president Joined LaRose’s work with No Labels, a centrist group seeking an alternative to Trump and President Joe Biden. (The next day, a top No Labels official called LaRose to back him up The email was first reported by NBC News.)

“We definitely touched a nerve in the Moreno campaign,” Gorka said. “And I think that’s exactly what you’re seeing. It’s a very intense race.”

Attacks by Vance adviser Jai Chabria, who led the senator’s successful 2022 campaign and has advised LaRose in the past but is neutral in this year’s Senate race, backfired.

“It’s pretty stupid for operatives to attack a popular conservative U.S. senator in the Republican primary and not his opponent,” Chabriya said, referring to Vance. “They’re happy that you don’t need a license to do this because it’s going to be revoked.”

Campaigns and other Republican groups had spent about $24 million on advertising through Tuesday, according to AdImpact, an ad-tracking firm.

Dolan is in first place with $8.1 million in advertising, and Moreno is in second place with $6.5 million. Both are heavily funding their campaigns, with LaRose relying on ally Leadership for Ohio PAC, which has spent $4.3 million as of Tuesday and committed another $1 million in the primary. The Growth Club, aligned with Moreno, who began attacking Dolan, spent $2.2 million and booked another $2.8 million.

Gorka and Maloney said they believe the ads are spot on Moreno’s policy flip-flops and local news of claims sued against enterprises Despite Trump’s endorsement, they helped keep the race close. Both featured strong ground games and solid schedules. LaRose had more than 30 events in the past two weeks, while Dolan had more than 25. Dolan’s campaign has also contacted more than 300,000 voters since Jan. 1 through phone calls and home visits. Moreno’s campaign, meanwhile, highlighted 70 events in two months and endorsements from nearly as many county GOP groups.

“There’s going to be a lot of advertising and dollars flying in the last two weeks,” Guthrie said. “But at this point, I think it’s anybody’s game.”

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By 37ci3

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