Jan 23, 2024 - News

Ohio Republican U.S. Senate candidates trade jabs in debate

Illustration of a Trump-like hand holding a tiny pair of boxing gloves

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Bernie Moreno is a corporate elitist. Matt Dolan is a failed career politician. Frank LaRose is a lying, scheming loser.

  • Or, wait: Moreno is the crusading outsider backed by Donald Trump. Dolan is the common-sense public servant who puts Ohioans first. And LaRose is the battle-tested Green Beret who wants your prayers just as much as he wants your votes.

Driving the news: The three Ohio Republicans running for U.S. Senate traded jabs and tried to convince voters they were each the best candidate during the first of three GOP debates Monday night.

Why it matters: The winner will go on to challenge Democrat Sherrod Brown in a state where Donald Trump dominated in both 2016 and 2020.

  • The hour-long debate, televised by Fox 8 in Cleveland and other Nexstar affiliates across Ohio, was the first opportunity for many voters to see the candidates interact.

What happened: They responded to a series of questions on immigration, Trump, Jan. 6, the economy, abortion and foreign policy.

Between the lines: Debates are opportunities for candidates to attack their opponents and distinguish themselves, but the broad strokes of their stances are aligned.

  • All three candidates support Trump (even Dolan, who had not campaigned for Trump's endorsement), aggressive border security and deportation of undocumented immigrants; and think trans women should not be allowed to play women's sports.

Yes, but: They had no trouble attacking each other regardless.

  • Moreno continually cited his Trump endorsement and said that, like the former president, he'd be able to help transform Washington, D.C., because he was not a lawyer or career politician like his opponents.
  • Dolan cited his work in the Ohio legislature, arguing that he has remained steadfast in his conservative views, unlike his opponents, who he says would say anything to suit the political moment.
  • LaRose said his opponents were wealthy elitists, and that only he understood the plight of Ohioans struggling through the current economy.

What's next: The primary election is March 19.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Cleveland.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Cleveland stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Cleveland.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more