Jul 17, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Republican Frank LaRose joins crowded Ohio Senate primary

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is jumping into the well-populated Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio.

Why it matters: It complicates yet another Senate primary as competitive intra-party contests heat up across the country.

Driving the news: LaRose released a video to social media citing inflation, immigration policy and education as key issues: "Lately, it feels like our country is slipping away from us."

  • "Someone needs to step up and take on the fight. Well, I'm a Green Beret, a conservative, a man of faith, and I'm not afraid of a fight," he said in the video.
  • LaRose, as his state's top election administrator, pushed back on former President Trump's unfounded claims of widespread election fraud in 2020. He previously served as a state senator.

The state of play: Two Republicans, Sen. Matt Dolan and businessman Bernie Moreno, are already running for the seat held by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

  • Both ran for Senate in 2022, with Moreno dropping out and endorsing now-Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), who has since returned the favor.
  • Dolan, who positioned himself as relatively anti-Trump, finished in third behind Vance and former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.
  • Both have immense personal wealth they can use to help self-fund their campaigns, though early polls have given LaRose the edge.

The other side: Ohio Democratic Party spokesperson Reeves Oyster said in a statement that “another long, contentious battle” will leave the eventual nominee “damaged in the eyes of Ohio voters.”

The big picture: Ohio is just one of several contentious Senate primaries taking shape in both parties.

  • West Virginia: Popular Gov. Jim Justice is facing Rep. Alex Mooney, who is backed by a massive investment from the conservative Club for Growth, in the GOP primary for Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's seat.
  • Montana: National Republican Senatorial Committee-backed veteran and businessman Tim Sheehy faces conservative Rep. Matt Rosendale to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.
  • Utah: Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, should he decide to run again, could face a well-funded challenger in state House Speaker Brad Wilson.
  • Nevada: NRSC-backed veteran and businessman Sam Brown is facing right-wing former state legislator Jim Marchant to take on Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen.
  • Michigan: Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who was until recently wasn't facing major opposition to her run for retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow's (D-Mich.) seat, is now being challenged by progressive actor Hill Harper.
  • Texas: Democratic Rep. Colin Allred faces a similar situation as Slotkin in his bid to take on Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, with state Sen. Roland Gutierrez jumping into the race this month.
  • California: Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee are all slugging it out for retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein's seat.
  • Maryland: Democratic Rep. David Trone, a self-funder, and Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks are fighting for retiring Sen. Ben Cardin's seat.
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