Trump and Democrats Both Support Controversial Candidate in Ohio GOP Senate Primary | Vanity Fair

16 March 2024 1860
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Written by Caleb Ecarma

The Republican Senate primary in Ohio is witnessing a peculiar scenario. Bernie Moreno, a candidate embroiled in a controversy, is attracting attention from both Donald Trump and Democrats, albeit with contrasting intentions. According to a recent Associated Press report, in 2008, an Adult Friend Finder account was registered using Moreno's work email from his automobile dealership. The stated purpose of the account reportedly read, "looking for young guys to have fun with while traveling.” This has raised eyebrows, primarily because Moreno, a married man, has based his campaign on opposing LGBTQ+ rights. Moreno's explanation is that a past intern used his boss's email to create the account as a misguided prank. This explanation has been further supported by a statement from his company vice president, who confirmed the intern had access to Moreno's emails at the time.

However, some Republicans consider this explanation inadequate, according to Politico. Despite this, Trump stands by Moreno, attributing the scandal to those threatened by the America First movement. In a display of support, Trump plans to be present at a Saturday rally for Moreno in Dayton, Ohio, and other notable attendees will be Ohio senator J.D. Vance, Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, and Senate contender Kari Lake.

Democrats, on the contrary, hope Moreno's personal baggage and his ties with Trump will make him a weak candidate against Sherrod Brown, the incumbent Democratic senator. To further their strategy, they've run several ads featuring Moreno's connections with Trump and his extreme conservative views. A similar tactic was successfully implemented in Pennsylvania's gubernatorial election in 2022.

To retain his Ohio Senate seat, Brown might need a considerably weak opponent, primarily because Ohio voters have been largely leaning right since his last election. Moreno, a first-time candidate and a car dealer turned cryptocurrency investor, might be an ideal foil. Other seasoned contenders in the state's GOP primary include Ohio's secretary of state Frank LaRose, and state senator Matt Dolan. Recent polls suggest tight competition between Dolan and Moreno, with LaRose in the third position and many voters still undecided.