Bernie Moreno Wins GOP Ohio Senate Primary, Setting Up High-Stakes November Battle 

Bernie Moreno, a businessman, won the contentious Ohio Republican U.S. Senate primary on Tuesday and will face Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio this fall.

Moreno defeated Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Senator Matt Donal in a contest that set up the GOP old guard against allies of former President Donald Trump.

Results aren’t official until votes are canvassed following election day.

Tuesday’s election concluded a tight race that became vicious in the final weeks. Candidates and their allies spent millions of dollars to go head-to-head on the airwaves as they jostled for voters’ support. Most attacks centered around the candidates’ conservative credentials and whether they would have Trump’s back if he is reelected in November.

Moreno’s victory was far from ensured. Former President Trump endorsed him in December, but the nod didn’t put the race away as expected. Instead, Moreno struggled for several weeks to break free from the pack and whittle away at a plurality of undecided voters who dominated polls.

 A flurry of visits by Trump to Ohio and his allies ultimately moved Moreno over the finish line.

Throughout the race, LaRose and Dolan highlighted Moreno’s shifting positions on immigration and gun control. Moreno was also dogged by legal trouble from his days in a car dealership, including more than a dozen lawsuits in Massachusetts that accuse him of not properly paying employees for their overtime.

Moreno’s more significant competition came from Dolan, who secured endorsements from former Senator Rob Portman and Governor Mike DeWine. Donald painted himself as a pragmatist with a plan to solve issues and criticized the GOP, who believed civility was a weakness. However, his late momentum was not enough to beat back Trump, who labeled him a RINO (Republican in Name Only).

Meanwhile, LaRose struggled to gain traction despite being the only candidate to have held office statewide.

Ohio primary sets the stage for high-stakes race for the U.S. Senate

Now, all eyes are focused on November.

Senator Brown, seeking a fourth term, is one of two Democrats defending a seat in a state won by Trump. The GOP is aware he is vulnerable and sees an opportunity to flip Ohio as they work to regain control of the Senate.

Although Ohio isn’t likely to be competitive for president, Ohio residents can expect a similar barrage of attention and advertising for the Senate race. The Senate Democrats’ campaign arm has already reserved $65 million to assist Brown, while a PAC aligned with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to spend $83 million.

A Democrat PAC even meddled in the GOP race before Tuesday’s primary by airing an ad boasting of Moreno’s ties to Trump. Democrats said they wanted to show Moreno’s true colors, but his opponents argued they were trying to boost the weaker candidate against Brown.

Brown said he had nothing to do with the ad at a Monday campaign event and dismissed it as “somebody’s opinion.” To him, he told the three Republican candidates were essentially the same.

“They are all for a national abortion ban,” said Brown. “They’ve never supported organized labor. They’ve never supported workers. They’re all three against the minimum wage. So, we’ll be ready for whoever it is.”