Ohio race: Another candidate jumps into the most competitive GOP Senate primary in the country

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Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno on Tuesday launched a Republican campaign for the Senate in the 2022 race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio.

In a national announcement shared first with Fox News, Moreno declared, “I’m running to represent the people of Ohio in the United States Senate to protect the American dream for the next generation.”

FIELD OF GOP CONTENDERS FOR THE SENATE IN OHIO KEEPS GROWING

“If we’re going to protect this country from the socialist left and keep this precious idea built on the concept of freedom, then we need outsiders who back up their words with action. I won’t take money from corporate PACs,” Moreno said in a campaign video.

The candidate also pledged to “strongly support term limits for DC politicians. I’ll crack down on China and get our great private companies to build a supply chain made right here in America.”

Moreno becomes the latest contender to formally declare their candidacy in the increasingly crowded GOP Senate primary field, following former state GOP chair Jane Timken and former state treasurer and former two-time Senate candidate Josh Mandel.

Cleveland businessman and 2018 Ohio Republican Senate candidate Mike Gibbons last month took a major step toward launching a campaign, kicking off a listening tour across Ohio. Last week longtime Rep. Mike Turner – a Republican from Dayton – also launched a listening tour to talk with voters. And venture capitalist J.D. Vance, the author of the bestselling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” also appears likely to launch a campaign.

ANOTHER REPUBLICAN CONTENDER TAKES A BIG STEP TOWARDS LAUNCHING A SENATE CAMPAIGN IN OHIO

In his video, Moreno spotlights how at age 5 he left his native Colombia and boarded a plane with her mother and siblings bound for America.

“My parents came here legally because they wanted us to see in America we could accomplish anything,” he noted.

“I came from a country surrounded by the ideology of radicals like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, who promised to give everyone all they needed and solve all their problems — just like Bernie Sanders and AOC are doing today,” he charged as he took aim two of the best-known progressive leaders in Congress.

Moreno vowed that “no one will fight harder against the cancel culture of the socialist left.”

Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno announces his Republican Senate run in Ohio in a new campaign video, on April 6, 2021

Touting his outsider credentials in a race with a growing number of political veterans, he stressed: “If we’re going to protect this country from the socialist left, and keep this precious idea built on the concept of freedom, then we need outsiders who back up their words with action.”

BILLIONAIRE THIEL PUMPS $10 MILLION INTO SUPER PAC BACKING LIKLEY J.D. VANCE SENATE BID IN OHIO

Once a top general election battleground state, former President Trump won Ohio by eight points in both his 2016 White House victory and in last year’s reelection defeat. Nearly all of the candidates and likely contenders in the 2022 GOP race have strongly spotlighted their support for the former president.

“Four years ago we sent Donald J. Trump, an outsider and businessman, to Washington, to shake things up. And he did. We need to protect his victories,” Moreno spotlighted in his video.

Richard Grenell, who served as acting director of National Intelligence and U.S. ambassador to Germany in the Trump administration, is backing Moreno.

“Bernie Moreno will be the D.C. outsider who won’t be concerned what the Washington types think of him. Just like President Donald J. Trump did, Bernie Moreno will challenge the political system and establishment of D.C.,” said Grenell, who’s serving as chairman of the Moreno campaign’s national steering committee.

Ed McMullen, ambassador to Switzerland during the Trump administration; David Fischer, ambassador to Morocco during Trump’s presidency; Ja’Ron Smith, a deputy assistant for domestic policy in the Trump White House; and Chris Cox, the founder of Bikers for Trump, are also serving on Moreno’s national steering committee.

TRUMP ALLIES AIMING TO REPLACE RETIRING ESTABLISHMENT GOP SENATORS

Moreno highlighted in his video how he “started as an intern” at General Motors and made his way “to the top of the automotive industry.”

Moreno grew his business from a single dealership into an large collection of luxury dealerships across several states, and last decade became the largest volume luxury dealer in the Midwest. He’s also branched out his Bernie Moreno companies into non-automotive acquisitions.

But Moreno’s not the only Republican contender who can dip into deep pockets to help finance their campaign. Gibbons has said if he declares his candidacy, he’ll make an initial $5 million investment to back his bid. Last month, PayPal co-founder and billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel contributed $10 million of his own money into a super PAC that would support Vance if he runs. And Mandel started his 2020 bid with $4.5 million cash on hand, left over from his past campaigns.

In the race for the Democratic nomination, longtime Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of northeast Ohio is likely to launch a campaign, with a handful of other Democrats considered potential contenders.

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The U.S. Senate is currently split 50-50 between the two parties, but the Democrats hold a razor-thin majority, due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, who serves as president of the Senate. That means the GOP only needs a one-seat pickup to regain the majority.

But Republicans are defending 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs in 2022. Besides Ohio, the GOP is also defending open seats in the key battlegrounds of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, as well as in Missouri and Alabama.

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