High-profile elections in Ohio could give Republicans a chance to expand clout in Washington

High-profile elections in Ohio could give Republicans a chance to expand clout in Washington

High-profile elections in Ohio could give Republicans a chance to expand clout in Washington

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Republicans are watching a pair of high-profile elections in Ohio on Tuesday that could determine their chances of picking up critical seats this fall and expanding their power in Washington.

Open primary a threat to Trump-endorsed candidate

Chad Groening (AFN)

An Ohio-based tea party leader says Democrats are once again trying to interfere in an election, this time in the Ohio Senate race.

Like other states, Ohio has an open primary – and according to Tom Zawistowski, president of the We the People Convention, that is proving to be problematic for the Trump-endorsed candidate in the GOP Senate race, Bernie Moreno. In today's primary, Moreno is up against State Senator Matt Dolan and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

"The Democrats and the RINOs are conspiring to get Democrats to move into our election [today] and vote for Matt Dolan, who was just endorsed by a total RINO, Rob Portman, who was our former U.S. senator; and by our total RINO governor, Mike DeWine," he tells AFN.

Zawistowski, Tom (We the People Convention) Zawistowski

According to the Ohio political activist, incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown is out of touch with an Ohio that is no longer a swing state – and conservatives in the state hope Moreno will be the one who finally ends Brown's career.

"We can defeat [Sherrod Brown] – and that will assure us control the U.S. Senate," he explains. "But more importantly, if we get the right candidate, we will get a Senate that will cooperate with Trump."

But Zawistowski contends that if Dolan ends up as the Republican nominee in November, the Left wins either way.

"Dolan is not going to support the MAGA agenda – so, Ohio MAGA Trump voters have to turn out on Tuesday and vote for … Moreno. The Republicans will take over control of the Senate. The question is: Will it work for Trump and the MAGA agenda, or [will it] be like Mitch McConnell and work against us?"

One is a contentious and expensive Republican primary for the chance to face third-term Sen. Sherrod Brown this fall. The second is a GOP matchup in the 9th Congressional District held by Rep Marcy Kaptur, of Toledo, the longest-serving woman in Congress.

Both Brown and Kaptur are considered among the year's most vulnerable Democrats, amid Ohio's tack to the political right in recent years. With Democrats holding a narrow voting majority in the Senate and Republicans maintaining a thin margin in the U.S. House, both races have already drawn outsized attention from national party leaders.

Of highest interest Tuesday is the outcome of a three-way Senate contest for the chance to run against Brown in the fall. The race is testing the depth of GOP allegiances to former President Donald Trump in a state that voted for him convincingly twice.

Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno (pictured above), running as a “political outsider,” failed to parlay Trump's endorsement into the type of runaway lead over his two rivals — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Sen. Matt Dolan — that author and venture capitalist JD Vance experienced two years ago. Trump held a campaign rally for Moreno on Saturday.

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that in 2008, someone with access to Moreno’s work email account created a profile on an adult website seeking “Men for 1-on-1 sex.” The AP could not definitively confirm that it was created by Moreno himself. Moreno’s lawyer said a former intern created the account and provided a statement from the intern, Dan Ricci, who said he created the account as “part of a juvenile prank.”

Questions about the profile have circulated in GOP circles for the past month, sparking frustration among senior Republican operatives about Moreno’s potential vulnerability in a general election, according to seven people who are directly familiar with conversations about how to address the matter. They requested anonymity to avoid running afoul of Trump and his allies.

Also last week, Dolan — a largely self-funded candidate who did not seek Trump's backing — won the support of two of the state's best-known Republican moderates: Gov. Mike DeWine and former U.S. Sen. Rob Portman. LaRose, meanwhile, heads into primary day as the only contender who has previously won statewide office.