Trump endorses former auto dealer Bernie Moreno in Ohio Senate race


Former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday endorsed Bernie Moreno in Ohio's Republican Senate primary, bolstering the candidacy of Moreno, who has racked up several high-profile endorsements in his tight race against two more experienced politicians.

With just three months until the primary, public polls show a tight race between state Sen. Matt Dolan, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Mr. Moreno, a former Cleveland car dealer.

The winner will challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat seeking a fourth six-year term. Several recent public polls have shown Brown leading any of the three Republicans and having an easier time beating Moreno.

A poll by Emerson College and WJW-TV, a Cleveland Fox affiliate, on Nov. 13 showed Brown 11 points ahead of Moreno, more than doubling his lead over Dolan and LaRose. An Oct. 19 poll from Ohio Northern University's Institute for Civics and Public Policy showed Brown leading Moreno by 22 points.

Trump, in a series of social media posts, did not directly mention Moreno's Republican competitors, but pointed to Moreno's status as a “political outsider” as a valuable asset in a race against Brown. Moreno has never held elected office, but has been an active Republican donor in recent years and ran unsuccessfully for the party's Senate nomination last year.

Moreno “will fight the corrupt deep state that is destroying our country,” Trump wrote in a social media post.

Moreno had been skeptical of Trump's political rise, referring to him as a “lunatic invading the party” in 2016, but has since changed his thinking. Emily Moreno Miller, his daughter, was a Republican National Committee official during Trump's reelection bid, and her husband, Rep. Max Miller of Ohio, is a former Trump White House aide who won his first election last year.

“I could not be more grateful and honored to have the complete and total support of President Donald Trump at this vital moment in the campaign,” Moreno said in a statement, adding that a Republican takeover of the Senate and a victory for Mr. Trump in the presidential race “He will make America great again!”

Trump's endorsement proved valuable last year in the Republican primaries before the midterm elections, but not so much in the general election.

Across the country, his hand-picked candidates lost close races, including a blow in Pennsylvania, where Democrats won a Senate seat and helped ensure that Republicans remained in the minority for the next two years. Trump-backed candidates in the five most competitive House elections lost.

Democrats downplayed Trump's endorsement and predicted the Republican primary would become more divisive.

“Bernie Moreno has made it clear that he will not fight for Ohioans and that he does not understand the issues they face in their daily lives,” said Reeves Oyster, spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party. “As this primary heats up, it's clear that this fight is only going to get messier, nastier, and more costly from here.”

In Moreno's previous Senate primary, Trump's endorsement proved decisive for JD Vance, who won the Republican nomination before defeating Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee, in the general election. Vance endorsed Moreno this year.

Moreno also received the endorsement of Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

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