Campaign

Centrist state lawmaker enters Ohio GOP Senate primary

State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Ohio) jumped into Ohio's open Senate race Monday, bringing his centrist brand to a crowded GOP primary field stacked with supporters of former President Trump.

Dolan, who launched his campaign following a statewide listening tour, suggested in a statement that the other candidates in the race are not adequately focusing on the needs of Ohioans.

"After meeting with Republicans, conservative activists and community leaders across Ohio in recent weeks, it's clear that the focus of the race for U.S. Senate has yet to be about our people, our interests, and our beloved state," he said. "This changes today with the announcement of my candidacy for U.S. Senate."

Dolan cast himself as a conservative advocate, bashing the Biden administration and touting issues like immigration and inflation. 

"Ohio is under attack by the socialist agenda being pushed by President Joe Biden and Democrats like [Rep.] Tim Ryan and [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.]," he said, referencing an Ohio Democratic lawmaker running for the Senate.

"Over the last eight months, the Biden Administration has unilaterally created a humanitarian crisis on our southern border, a national security crisis in the Middle East and an economic crisis across America with rising inflation and the pending threat of record tax and spending increases," Dolan said. "Our sovereignty is under threat, our economy is under stress and our safety at home and abroad is at risk. The stakes of this election could not be greater." 

Dolan brings Republican bona fides to the race, helping pass in June what the Ohio Republican Party dubbed the "most conservative budget" in state history. 

Still, Dolan has bucked his party on other key issues, including backing gun control reforms and voting against Ohio's stand your ground law, and opposing an abortion restriction bill. He's also a supporter of the current $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill awaiting passage in Congress.

Those stances put him at odds with the rest of the GOP primary field vying for the chance to replace retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R). Among them are former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, author and venture capitalist JD Vance, former state GOP chairman Jane Timken, businessman Bernie Moreno and investment banker Mike Gibbons.

Several of them have cast themselves as reliable conservatives and allies for Trump and have openly sought his endorsement.

In an interview with The Columbus Dispatch, Dolan said he was more of a supporter of Trump's policies rather than the former president himself.

"President Trump remains a big influence in the Republican Party, but it's the Republican ideals that he puts forth that's resonating with people, and that's what I'm focused on," he said.

Ryan and attorney Morgan Harper are running in the Democratic primary, though both could face headwinds in what once was seen as a swing state but that has moved to the right in recent elections.

Ohio does have a Democratic senator in Sherrod Brown. He last won reelection in 2018.

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