Take two: Ohio’s Bernie Moreno announces second straight GOP Senate run, in bid to flip blue seat red

EXCLUSIVE — Republican Bernie Moreno, spotlighting his image as an outsider and a conservative, is formally announcing his second straight campaign for the Senate in Ohio. “When insiders lose, we win. I’m Bernie Moreno. I’m an outsider conservative running for Senate. Together we’ll turn Washington inside out,” Moreno said in a video launching his campaign that was shared first with Fox News on Tuesday. Moreno, a successful Cleveland-based businessman and luxury auto dealership giant, is jumping into an emerging 2024 GOP Senate primary in Ohio in the hopes of taking on Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown next year in a race that could determine if the Republicans win back the Senate majority. In his video, Moreno took aim at both Democrats and Republicans, claiming that “we’re losing our country because corrupt and cowardly politicians from both parties sell us out.” SECOND REPUBLICAN JUMPING INTO OHIO’S CRUCIAL 2024 SENATE RACE “President Trump put us on a path to prosperity, but today China’s buying our land, drugs pour through our borders while our tax dollars flow to foreign countries and our jobs stream overseas. The country we love is being ruined by insider politicians,” Moreno charged. “Now I’m running for Senate and you guessed it, I’d be an outsider in Washington too. I’m not a career politician. I’ve never held office. I’m doing this because I firmly believe career politicians have put us in a ditch and we need outsiders to fix this country.” And Moreno also argued that “it takes new leaders who are willing to fight to save the America First values that we share.” Moreno, an immigrant who arrived in the U.S. legally from Colombia with his family as a five-year-old boy, made border security a top issue during his 2022 Senate campaign and visited the U.S.-Mexico border. He shelled out millions of his own money to run TV commercials to try and boost his first Senate bid, but he suspended his campaign in February last year after requesting and holding a private meeting with former President Donald Trump. The crowded and combustible 2022 GOP Senate nomination in Ohio was eventually won by former hedge fund executive and best-selling author JD Vance, who landed Trump’s endorsement just before last May’s primary. Vance went on to defeat longtime Democrat Rep. Tim Ryan in last November’s general election to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman. Trump launched his third White House bid in November and is currently the clear front-runner in the GOP 2024 presidential nomination race. Moreno endorsed Trump in February and last week the former president waded into the 2024 Republican Senate primary, saying in a social media post that Moreno’s a “highly respected businessman from the GREAT STATE of OHIO.”  The former president went on to write that Moreno’s “thinking of running for the Senate. He would not be easy to beat, especially against Brown, one of the worst in the Senate!” After dropping out of the 2022 Senate primary, Moreno appeared to forge a close relationship with Vance, helping the then-GOP nominee fundraise and campaign across Ohio. And he played the role of Ryan in Vance’s debate preparations in the general election. While Moreno has the ability to self-fund, his advisers tell Fox News that he’s expected to aggressively fundraise, as he did in the 2022 cycle. Moreno had the single biggest fundraising quarter of the 2022 GOP Senate candidates, with a $2.25 million haul in the spring of 2021. OHIO GOP SENATE CANDIDATE DOLAN VISITS SOUTHERN BORDER Moreno becomes the second prominent Republican in Ohio and the second GOP candidate from the 2022 cycle to launch a 2024 Senate campaign, following state Sen. Matt Dolan. The former top county prosecutor and Ohio assistant attorney general two weeks ago toured the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona to draw attention to Ohio’s fentanyl crisis and the flow of drugs over nation’s southern border. Dolan — whose family owns Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Guardians — also shelled out millions of dollars of his own money to run ads for his 2022 Senate bid. He surged near the end of the primary race, coming in third, behind Vance and just behind former state Treasurer Josh Mandel. Rep. Warren Davidson and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose are among the other Republicans considering Senate bids. 2024 WATCH: ‘RETIRE OR GET FIRED’ — GOP TARGETS THREE VULNERABLE RED STATE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS Moreno will kick off a statewide campaign tour starting on Tuesday, with stops in Gahanna, in suburban Columbus; Milford, in suburban Cincinnati; Xenia, which is east of Dayton, and a town hall in the evening in Cleveland. On Wednesday, Moreno’s scheduled to campaign in northwest Ohio, with stops in Lima, Findlay, and Toledo. He kicks off Thursday with a visit to Coshocton, which is roughly 60 miles east of Columbus. The winner of next year’s GOP primary will challenge Brown, who’s the only Democrat to win statewide in Ohio in the past decade. Brown will be heavily targeted by Republicans in a state that was once a premiere general election battleground but has shifted red over the past six years. Ohio Democratic Party spokesperson Reeves Oyster argued in a statement last week that “the Republican primary for Ohio’s Senate seat is heating up and will only get nastier from here as Republicans are forced to sling mud, burn cash and push an agenda that is deeply out of step with Ohioans’ values to get ahead. It’s clear already that whoever emerges from this primary will be bruised, battered, and unpopular with the voters that will decide the general election.”
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