Political observers: What happened this week in Ohio will spread beyond its border

Political observers: What happened this week in Ohio will spread beyond its border

Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks to supporters during his primary election night watch party in Westlake, Ohio, Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Political observers: What happened this week in Ohio will spread beyond its border

Conservative political analysts are saying results from the Ohio Republican primary on Tuesday clearly indicate that endorsements by Donald Trump carry a lot of weight in the current political environment – and not just in the Buckeye State.

Tuesday was a great night for former President Donald Trump as two candidates he endorsed emerged victorious from Ohio's GOP primary. Businessman and political outsider Bernie Moreno won more 50% of the vote against two opponents in the Senate primary. And in northwest Ohio, State Representative Derek Merrin prevailed over former State Representative Craig Riedel just 24 hours after Trump endorsed him.

The next step for Moreno will be on Election Day in November. So, he will now turn his focus to defeating incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown, who has held his Senate seat since January 2007. During a victory speech, Moreno made clear he intends to unseat Brown.

"We have an opportunity now to retire the old commie and send him to a retirement home and save this country, because that's what we're going to do," he stated.

Tom Zawistowski, president of the Ohio-based We the People Convention, contends the victories reveal that the GOP establishment is losing ground.

Zawistowski, Tom (We the People Convention) Zawistowski

"It's really an indication that MAGA and Trump have taken over Ohio and the Ohio Republican Party, just like Trump has taken over the RNC," he tells AFN. "This is something that people are missing because it's been a long time coming, and the RINOs have been able to hold it off with all their money. But this time they couldn't spend enough money – and that's a big signal for the fall. That means a lot nationwide.

"With Donald Trump on the ballot with Bernie Moreno, we are going to go into the November election – Republicans, conservatives, MAGA – more united than anytime in Ohio history. Sherrod Brown knows it, and they know they're in big trouble."

While he expects a pretty competitive Senate race in Ohio this fall, Jameson Taylor – director of policy and legislative affairs at AFA Action – also says Tuesday's primary results bode well for Donald Trump.

"Moreno's views are actually unknown. He has no political record," notes the public policy analyst, "but Trump's endorsement put it over the top for him. And clearly, Moreno is campaigning as a MAGA conservative."

Taylor, Dr. Jameson (AFA Action) Taylor

Taylor expects Brown to make the campaign all about abortion, which has been a winning formula for Democrats in recent elections.

"Because with the economy on thin ice, inflation rising, U.S. foreign policy in a shambles, and the border completely open to thugs and criminals, that's the only thing that the Democrats can think of," Taylor argues. "So, it's going to be a pretty competitive race in Ohio going into November between Moreno and Sherrod Brown."

Longtime liberal Ohio congresswoman could be vulnerable

Moreno isn't the only Trump-endorsed candidate poised to unseat a Democrat this fall. In northwest Ohio, State Rep. Derek Merrin prevailed over former State Rep. Craig Riedel a day after Trump endorsed him. Merrin will face 21-term Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur in November's general election.

According to Zawistowski, Merrin is a "solid" candidate for the GOP. "[He] was going to be the House Speaker [in Ohio] and Donald Trump endorsed him 24 hours before his election and he won – and he's going to beat Kaptur with Trump on the ballot," he offers.

Taylor points out Merrin got the highest possible rating on the AFA iVoter Guide.

"Derek Merrin has a very strong brand in Ohio. He's recognized as a verified conservative; it was thought that he was going to become Speaker of the House in Ohio, and it didn't work out that way. Derek Merrin is definitely a very solid candidate running for that congressional seat."

Zawistowski says it's possible Republicans could pick up as many as three House seats in Ohio.

Editor's Note: AFA Action is an affiliate of the American Family Association, the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.