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Trump-backed Bernie Moreno wins Ohio GOP Senate primary

Trump-backed candidate Bernie Moreno has won the Republican nomination for Senate in Ohio to face off against incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) this November, according to Decision Desk HQ.

Moreno, a former car dealership owner and the father-in-law of Rep. Max Miller (R-Ohio), defeated state Sen. Matt Dolan (R) and Ohio Secretary of State (R) in a messy primary that intensified in the closing days of the campaign. 

Moreno had built up a significant advantage over his opponents in endorsements, gathering support from former President Trump as well as influential Ohio politicians Sen. JD Vance (R) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R). 

Moreno and Dolan, both of whom were unsuccessful candidates for Senate in Ohio in 2022, also had a significant fundraising advantage over LaRose, with both of them being able to pour millions of dollars into their campaigns through self-funding. 

Polling in the primary changed significantly over the course of the race and appeared somewhat inconclusive ahead of Election Day. LaRose was the early front-runner for the first few months, but Moreno began taking the lead after Trump endorsed him and he coalesced support from numerous top Senate Republicans in late 2023 to early this year. 

But Dolan appeared to be surging at the right time in the weeks ahead of the election, with some polls showing him in front. He notched significant endorsements earlier this month from former Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), a popular two-term incumbent, as he sought to close in on Moreno. 

Moreno was also dogged by controversy this past week after an account on a sexual encounters website called Adult Friend Finder was found to be linked to Moreno’s work email address. The Associated Press reported that the profile was seeking “Men for 1-on-1 sex.” 

Moreno’s campaign sent a statement following the report from a former intern saying that they created the account in 2008 as an “aborted prank.” The intern said he was “one of many” people at Moreno’s company who had access to his email account and his action was “not intended to be malicious.” 

Moreno’s lawyer said Moreno had “nothing to do” with the account on the website. 

Trump rallied with Moreno on Saturday ahead of the Tuesday primary, and Moreno was ultimately able to pull off the win to face Brown in what will be one of the most hotly contested Senate races this fall. 

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