Ohio Secretary of State Rolls Out Senate Bid

July 18, 2023 by Dan McCue
Ohio Secretary of State Rolls Out Senate Bid
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose entered the race for U.S. Senate on Monday, joining two other Republicans in a bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Brown is one of three incumbent Democratic senators up for reelection next year in a state that former President Donald Trump carried in 2020, causing the GOP to see the seat as eminently flippable.

LaRose, a former Green Beret who’s currently serving as a reservist, has been Ohio’s secretary of state since 2019.

He joins state Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, and Bernie Moreno, a wealthy car dealership owner, in the race for the Republican nomination.

“I feel that I’ve got the strongest shot of being able to defeat Sherrod Brown,” La Rose told reporters last week.

In a campaign press release, LaRose promised to run a campaign focused on restoring Ohio’s voice and values to the Senate, while highlighting his statewide leadership experience and conservative voting record.

“Like a lot of Ohioans, I’m concerned about the direction of our country,” LaRose said in the same release. 

“As the father of three young girls, I’m not willing to sit quietly while the woke left tries to cancel the American dream. We have a duty to defend the values that made America the hope of the world,” he said.

As he enters the race, LaRose is touting his success in four previous statewide elections, including two GOP primaries and two general elections. 

His campaign material states he won reelection as secretary of state last year with more votes than anyone in the history of the office, and that he also received 100,000 more votes in the 2022 election than Brown garnered in his most recent Senate race.

A recent East Carolina University poll shows LaRose leads over Dolan 17% to 14% in the Republican primary, with Moreno placing third at 7%, and 58% undecided.

A survey conducted last month by Causeway Solutions found LaRose with a 13-point advantage over the two announced GOP primary candidates. 

The East Carolina University poll also shows Brown holding a narrow lead against each of his three potential Republican challengers. 

In a hypothetical matchup between Brown and LaRose, Brown leads 44% to 42%. He also holds a slim lead over Dolan, 45% to 44%, and Moreno, 46% to 42%.

The one near-certainty with La Rose entering the primary contest is that Ohio Republicans are in for their second prolonged brawl to determine the party’s senatorial nominee in two elections.

In 2021, “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance jumped into the primary being contested for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Rob Portman.

Vance was backed by billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel who gave $10 million to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC created to support Vance’s candidacy, but the two other candidates in the race refused to back out.

In May 2022, Vance won the Republican primary with 32% of the vote, defeating six other candidates, including Josh Mandel, who garnered 23% of the vote, and Matt Dolan, who got 22%. 

In the November 2022 general election, Vance went on to defeat Democratic nominee Tim Ryan with 53.1% of the vote to Ryan’s 46.9%.

Despite the potentially rough contest ahead, LaRose is confident he will win the primary and eventually defeat brown.

“I’m running against two former Democrats in the Republican primary and an incumbent senator who has one of the most liberal voting records in the Congress,” he said in a written statement. 

“I’m the only candidate who can point to a consistently conservative voting record. I’m also the only veteran in the race, the only member of the military and the only parent of grade-school kids. It’s time Ohio had a senator who lives like us, believes like us, and fights for us, and I’m not one to back down from a fight,” LaRose said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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