Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) launched a U.S. Senate bid on Monday, becoming the third prominent Republican seeking to topple Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in a state key to GOP hopes of retaking control of the chamber.
“Lately it feels like our country is slipping away from us,” LaRose said in an announcement video. “Rising prices are hurting families. An open border is bringing in drugs and crime. Parents are being cut out of their children’s education. As a dad to three young girls, I know something has to change.”
With his entrance into the race, LaRose joins a competitive field that includes two deep-pocketed contenders: state Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, and Bernie Moreno, a car dealership owner who was encouraged to run by former president Donald Trump.
LaRose, who teased his bid in a July 4 tweet showing paperwork for the race, is probably the best known of the three, having won two statewide races, including reelection last year as secretary of state.
LaRose is among the Republicans in Ohio pushing a ballot initiative that would raise the threshold from a 50 percent vote to a 60 percent vote to amend the Ohio Constitution. If the measure passes in an August special election, it would become more difficult for an abortion rights amendment expected on the November ballot to succeed.
In his video, LaRose touts himself as “a Green Beret, a conservative, a man of faith” and says, “I’m not afraid of a fight.”
Democrats are welcoming what is expected to be a hard-fought primary.
“The Republican ‘slugfest’ for Ohio’s Senate seat is shaping up to be another long, contentious battle that will leave whoever emerges damaged in the eyes of Ohio voters,” Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Reeves Oyster said in a statement Monday.
Brown won reelection to a third Senate term by nearly 7 percentage points in 2018.
Democrats, however, have struggled in statewide races in more recent years. Trump carried the state over Democrat Joe Biden by about 8 percentage points in 2020. Republican J.D. Vance prevailed over Democrat Tim Ryan by about 6 percentage points in the Senate race last year.
Democrats are counting on Brown to win a fourth term as they try to maintain control of the Senate. The party has a 51-49 advantage, but the election map is favorable to Republicans in 2024.
Twenty-three members of the Democratic caucus are up for reelection, compared with 11 Republicans. Besides Ohio, the swing and GOP-friendly states that Democrats will be defending include West Virginia, Montana, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Trump weighed in on behalf of Moreno in April, writing on his Truth Social platform: “Word is that Bernie Moreno, the highly respected businessman from the GREAT STATE of OHIO, and the father-in-law of fantastic young Congressman, Max Miller, is thinking of running for the Senate. He would not be easy to beat, especially against Brown, one of the worst in the Senate!”