Trump faces off against GOP establishment as he parachutes into contentious Republican Senate primary

Trump Challenges GOP Establishment by Entering Tense Republican Senate Primary Battle

Donald Trump is setting his sights on a repeat success. Two years back, the ex-president threw his support behind JD Vance in the highly competitive Republican Senate nomination race in Ohio. This move propelled Vance to a win in the GOP primary shortly thereafter.

Now, Trump is making his way back to Ohio this weekend. His aim is to support the Republican Senate candidate he’s endorsed in the state’s heated GOP primary. Having secured the Republican presidential nomination earlier this week, Trump is now the expected nominee for his party in 2024. He’s scheduled to lead a rally in Dayton, Ohio, this Saturday for businessman Bernie Moreno.

The focus is on six key Senate seats Republicans are targeting to flip in November. Trump’s visit to Ohio is timed just three days before the state’s March 19 primary. The rally in support of Moreno was announced by Buckeye Values PAC, a group backing Moreno, on Monday night.

This development occurred hours after Matt Dolan, a major contender in the GOP Senate primary, received endorsements from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and former Sen. Rob Portman. Both are seen as key figures in Ohio’s Republican establishment. “Matt Dolan has a vision for the future. He listens, he fights, and he knows how to get results for Ohio,” DeWine remarked upon endorsing Dolan.

Dolan, who is making his second consecutive attempt for the Senate seat in Ohio, emphasizes his support for Trump’s policies, despite not seeking the former president’s endorsement. Moreno, on the other hand, an immigrant from Colombia who became a successful businessman in Cleveland, received Trump’s endorsement in December.

Vance, along with other Trump allies, will join Moreno for campaigning across Ohio on Monday. This move was seen as a precursor to Trump’s endorsement. Moreno also enjoys support from notable Trump allies, including Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

After receiving DeWine’s endorsement, Moreno described the race as a clash between the “America-First Republican Party” and the “RINO establishment.” Andy Surabian, a senior advisor to Moreno’s campaign, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the race as a battle between “Team America First” and “Team RINO.”

The term “RINO” is often used derogatorily to label some Republicans as “Republicans in name only.” With the primary race heating up, all three major campaigns are treating it as a close contest. A significant amount of money has been spent by the campaigns and their supporting super PACs on negative advertising.

Democrats have also entered the fray, with Duty and Country PAC spending nearly $3 million in the final days before the primary to promote Moreno, whom they view as the weaker general election candidate. Additionally, a recent report by the Associated Press linked Moreno to an adult hookup website account created in 2008, a claim Moreno has dismissed as a desperate attack.

The winner of the GOP primary will challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown in November. Brown is the only Democrat to win statewide in Ohio in the last decade and is a key target for Republicans in a state that has shifted towards the GOP.

The battle for control of the U.S. Senate is intense, with Democrats holding a slim 51-49 majority. Republicans are eyeing a favorable map in 2024, with Democrats defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs. This includes three seats in states Trump won in 2020 and five in swing states narrowly won by Biden.

As Trump secures the GOP presidential nomination, his influence within the Republican Party continues to grow. Recently, a top ally and his daughter-in-law were appointed as chair and co-chair of the Republican National Committee. This move led to the departure of about 60 current staffers.

However, Trump’s influence faced a challenge this week when the GOP-controlled House passed a bill that could ban TikTok in the U.S., despite his objections. This development underscores the ongoing tensions within the party.

The Ohio primary is a critical test for Trump-backed candidates. “Trump has a lot invested in Bernie Moreno,” noted veteran Republican strategist Matt Gorman. Mike Hartley, a neutral GOP consultant in Ohio, emphasized the importance of Trump’s involvement, stating, “President Trump wants to have allies in Congress to help him get his agenda passed. It’s as simple as that.”

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