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Trump endorses businessman, political outsider Bernie Moreno for 2024 Senate race

Bernie Moreno is acknowledged at a rally with former President Donald Trump at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, on April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio.
Joe Maiorana
Associated Press
Bernie Moreno is acknowledged at a rally with former President Donald Trump at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, on April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Moreno has landed Donald Trump's endorsement in the GOP race for a 2024 contender to unseat third-term Democrat Sherrod Brown, one of his party's most vulnerable incumbents.

The former president and 2024 presidential candidate backed Moreno, a wealthy Cleveland businessman, in a post on his social media network, Truth Social, Tuesday.

“Bernie Moreno, a highly respected businessman from the GREAT State of Ohio, is exactly the type of MAGA fighter that we need in the United States Senate," Trump wrote. He said Moreno would “always stand up to the Fascist ‘nut jobs’ and the spineless RINOS” and is the “successful political outsider” needed to defeat Brown, whom he labeled a “Liberal career politician.”

The endorsement stands to elevate Moreno against his two Republican rivals: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team. In the 2016 and 2020 presidential races, Trump twice won Ohio by wide margins, and he retains a strong following in the state.

As in 2022, when he backed venture capitalist and memoirist JD Vance, Trump's pick for Senate is a former critic of the man.

Moreno supported Marco Rubio for president in the 2016 Republican primary, and once tweeted that listening to Trump was “like watching a car accident that makes you sick, but you can stop looking.” In 2021, NBC News reported on an email exchange around the time of Trump's first presidential run in which Moreno referred to Trump as a “lunatic” and a “maniac.”

Trump's decision to back Moreno is a blow to LaRose, who has taken a number of steps to win his favor. Just days after entering the Senate race this summer, LaRose endorsed Trump for president — reversing an earlier stance that the state's elections chief should remain politically neutral. The next month, he fired a long-time trusted aide after old tweets surfaced in which the staffer criticized Trump.

Dolan is the one candidate in the GOP field who has not sought to align himself with Trump. Both he and Moreno ran last year for the open Senate seat won by Vance. Though Dolan was a late entrant into the crowded and bitter GOP primary, he managed a third-place finish.

Moreno had dropped out of the 2022 contest at Trump's behest.

Following the endorsement, the conservative We the People Convention organization and Freedom for All PAC joined Trump in praising and endorsing Moreno — and called on both LaRose and Dolan to step aside.

Convention President Tom Zawistowski said in a statement that Brown's lack of a costly primary will otherwise advantage the Democrat headed into the fall. Representatives of both LaRose's and Dolan's campaigns said the candidates are staying in the race.