Updated Mar 19, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump-endorsed Bernie Moreno wins Ohio Republican Senate primary

Bernie Moreno shakes Donald Trump's hand

Ohio GOP Senate candidate Bernie Moreno shakes hands with former president Donald Trump during a rally on Saturday in Vandalia, Ohio. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno has won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio, AP projects.

Why it matters: Moreno will take on incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown in November, in what is expected to be a toss-up race that could swing the balance of the Senate.

  • The outcome is a win for former President Trump, who endorsed Moreno in December.
  • It's also welcome news for Democrats, who viewed Moreno as a weaker general election opponent than either state Sen. Matt Dolan or Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

The latest: Trump traveled to Ohio last weekend to push Moreno over the finish line. He was seen as the only Trump-backed Senate candidate at risk of losing a primary this year.

Flashback: In 2022, Trump's support of now-Sen. J.D. Vance was a key factor in propelling Vance past a crowded field that also included Dolan and former state treasurer Josh Mandel.

Yes, but: This year, the state's Republican establishment, including Gov. Mike DeWine and former Sen. Rob Portman, endorsed Dolan.

  • It was a race, Moreno said last week, "between the America-First Republican Party and the broken-down RINO establishment."

What they're saying: Moreno wasted no time in turning his attention to Brown in Tuesday night's victory speech.

  • "We have an opportunity now to retire the old commie ... and to save this country," he said.

The other side: Brown wrote on X the "choice ahead of Ohio is clear."

  • "Bernie Moreno has spent his career and campaign putting himself first, and would do the same if elected."

What's next: Brown waits in the wings with $13.5 million in cash on hand and a Democratic party that's willing to spend big. He has been in office since 2007, even as Ohio has moved further to the right.

  • As of the end of February, Moreno had close to $2.4 million in cash on hand after he loaned his campaign $1.2 million.
  • The race will be among the most expensive and closely watched nationwide.
Data: Associated Press; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Associated Press; Chart: Axios Visuals

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include comments from Moreno and Brown.

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