FIRST ON FOX: Conservative Sen. Mike Lee is taking sides in Ohio’s competitive GOP Senate primary in a race that could determine if Republicans win back the chamber’s majority.
Lee is backing Bernie Moreno, a successful Cleveland-based businessman and luxury auto dealership giant, in an endorsement shared first with Fox News on Tuesday.
The three-term GOP senator from Utah becomes the third Republican in the chamber to support Moreno, along with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and first-term Sen. JD Vance of Ohio.
“Bernie Moreno is a successful businessman, a political outsider, and a strong constitutional conservative. I am proud to join my colleague J.D. Vance in endorsing Bernie for the US Senate because we both know that we desperately need to elect more principled conservatives who have the courage to stand up to the establishment in both political parties. I’m confident that Bernie will do exactly that,” Lee said in a statement.
Moreno is one of the three major Republicans vying for their party’s 2024 nomination in the race to challenge longtime Democrat Sen. Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown in a one-time general election battleground state that’s turned red in recent cycles.
The other two candidates are state Sen. Matt Dolan, a former top county prosecutor and Ohio assistant attorney general whose family owns Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Guardians, and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. Dolan and Moreno are each making their second straight bid for the Senate.
Moreno, an immigrant who arrived in the U.S. legally from Colombia with his family as a boy, has made border security a top issue during both of his Senate campaigns.
Earlier this month, Moreno launched a $2 million statewide broadcast TV ad blitz in Ohio, with the commercials spotlighting his vow to secure America’s southern border with Mexico as well as his support for former President Donald Trump and his America First credentials.
His team says Moreno has outraised Dolan and LaRose combined in the race for campaign cash.
Brown, who is the only Democrat to win statewide in Ohio over the past decade, will be heavily targeted by Republicans in a state that was once a premiere battleground before shifting red.
Democrats currently control the U.S. Senate with a 51-49 majority, but Republicans are looking at a very favorable Senate map in 2024, with Democrats defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs. Three of those seats are in red states that Trump carried in 2020: Ohio, Montana and West Virginia, where Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin is not running for reelection.
Five others seats are in key swing states narrowly carried by Biden in 2020: Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
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