Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Sherrod Brown Gets Some Good News

It's that old "candidate quality" thingy again. Just when you thought the problem was licked, it pops up again. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is probably the most threatened Democratic Senate incumbent, even more than Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT). Montana has always been a populist state and third-generation Montana farmer Tester is a good fit for the state against a wealthy businessman from Minnesota, Tim Sheehy. Ohio is a working-class state in the Rust Belt and non-college blue-collar workers have become Republicans of late. These are the people who used to vote for Brown and now they are Republicans.

The Republican primary will be crucial to Brown's fate. The three candidates are Frank LaRose, Matt Dolan, and Bernie Moreno. LaRose is an Army Green Beret veteran, two-term state senator, and two-term Ohio secretary of state. He vigorously opposes abortion and campaigned against abortion for last year's ballot measures. He lost, but conservatives know he tried. Matt Dolan is a wealthy state senator whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians. He can put unlimited money into his campaign and has dumped in $7 million so far. Bernie Moreno is a wealthy car dealer. He and allied super PACs have spent $8.2 million for him so far. LaRose is not rich and can't match that, although billionaire Dick Uihlein did toss $3.7 million in his direction last year. But that money is gone and LaRose is no longer on the air, whereas Moreno and Dolan are.

An important development in the race is Donald Trump's endorsement of Moreno. It is quite interesting in that it shows that sometimes Trump does exhibit loyalty, or at least he keeps his word. Moreno ran against now-senator J.D. Vance in 2022 and spent almost $4 million of his own money in the primary. But when Trump asked him to withdraw to clear the path for Vance, Moreno did so. Maybe Trump feels some loyalty for Moreno as a result of that or maybe there was a secret deal in which Trump promised to support him in 2024 in return for withdrawing in 2022.

A new Emerson College poll has Moreno at 22%, LaRose at 21%, and Dolan at 15%. With Moreno loaded and endorsed by Trump, LaRose out of money, and Dolan slipping, it looks like Moreno has the edge here. He also has been endorsed by Vance and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). With Trump, Vance, and Jordan on Team Bernie, what's a Republican not to like?

Or a Democrat? Moreno got rich selling Mercedes-Benz cars and dabbling in crypto. His daughter is married to super Trumpy Rep. Max Miller (R-OH). Moreno was also sued over a dozen times for his business practices. A man of the people? Not exactly, especially when compared to Brown, who is strongly pro-union and pro-labor generally. Moreno could be best described as a target-rich environment who is a poor fit for Ohio. Vance is also wealthy, but he got wealthy by writing a best-selling book about his background as a poor hillbilly. It will be a tough race for Brown in red Ohio, but having Moreno as his opponent is his best chance. It is perhaps worth noting that although Moreno is very rich, Brown beat another shady, wealthy car dealer, Jim Renacci, in 2018 by 6 points and Democratic turnout tends to be higher in presidential years than in midterm years. The primary is March 19. (V)

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