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Clash Between Trump and Ohio’s GOP Establishment Intensifies Ahead of Contentious Senate Primary

Republicans (Credits: AllSides)

On the cusp of a closely watched Ohio Republican Senate primary, the battle lines between two leading candidates, Bernie Moreno, and state Sen. Matt Dolan, were firmly drawn on Monday, setting the stage for a contest that has evolved into a referendum on former President Donald Trump.

Trump’s allies and supporters of his preferred candidate, Bernie Moreno, crisscrossed the state, cautioning voters that casting their ballot for state Sen. Matt Dolan would blow the MAGA movement.

Meanwhile, Dolan aligned himself with Governor Mike DeWine, despite the latter’s strained relationship with the right-wing base. DeWine’s popularity among moderates and independents is crucial for Dolan’s coalition.

Trump (Credits: CNN)

The eleventh-hour push, spurred by Trump’s weekend rally for Moreno, underscored the intensity of the GOP nomination race to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in November. Polls indicate a tight race between Moreno and Dolan, with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose trailing and a sizable portion of voters undecided.

Speaking to a crowd gathered at a bar in Columbus, DeWine, who previously lost his Senate seat to Brown, emphasized the significance of winning in November.

He vouched for Dolan as the candidate with the best chance of success in the general election, citing his conservative credentials and track record as the Ohio Senate’s budget chief. Despite not directly naming anyone, both DeWine and Dolan subtly emphasized their differences from Trump and the MAGA movement.

Ohio Republican (Credits: Crain’s Cleveland Business)

Dolan, presenting himself as a conservative who prioritizes results over rhetoric, highlighted his ability to garner support even in heavily Democratic areas.

While not explicitly targeting Trump or Moreno, Dolan stressed the importance of civility in politics and the need to focus on tangible achievements.

Meanwhile, Moreno and his allies launched direct attacks on Dolan, echoing Trump’s combative style. Using terms like “Mitt Dolan” to evoke comparisons with Trump critic Mitt Romney, they labeled him a “swamp RINO” and accused him of betraying conservative values.

Moreno urged voters to reject establishment Republicans and prioritize America’s interests. As the primary race enters its final stretch, the clash between Moreno’s fiery rhetoric and Dolan’s more measured approach underscores the divergent paths within the Ohio Republican Party.

The outcome of Tuesday’s primary will not only determine the GOP nominee but also shape the party’s identity and strategy heading into the general election.

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