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Ohio GOP Senate candidate talks mudslinging, abortion and accusations

As his opponent's alleged Adult Friend Finder account surfaced, U.S. Senate hopeful Matt Dolan gave a one-on-one interview to Scripps News.
Ohio GOP Senate candidate talks mudslinging, abortion and accusations
Posted at 1:24 PM, Mar 15, 2024

Despite Ohio becoming a relatively reliable state for Republicans in recent years, one Democrat has managed to continue winning statewide office. 

Republicans are hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who has won three prior statewide elections as one of just a handful of Democrats in recent years to win statewide office. 

However, who will challenge Brown is still unclear. The state's U.S. Senate primary will be held Tuesday, and state Sen. Matt Dolan, businessman Bernie Moreno and Secretary of State Frank LaRose are all among the leading candidates. 

According to an Emerson College poll, Dolan leads the field with 26% of the vote, compared to 23% for Moreno and 16% for LaRose. Moreno trails despite having the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, who is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. 

The poll, however, showed a large number of undecided voters, with 32% of registered voters saying they are uncommitted.

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Old Adult Friend Finder account revealed

In recent days, the campaign has taken a strange turn. The Associated Press reported that Moreno is facing questions on whether he created an account on a casual sexual encounters website called Adult Friend Finder. The AP reported that the account was created using Moreno's personal email account.

“Hi, looking for young guys to have fun with while traveling,” an AP report revealed, citing a profile linked to Moreno. 

Moreno's lawyer, Dan Ricci, told the AP that the account was made as a prank by a former Moreno intern. 

Moreno has not responded to requests for interviews by Scripps News. 

Speaking to Scripps News' Joe St. George, Dolan brushed off the AP's reports. 

"I'm not really focused on it," Dolan said. "I'm focused on my agenda, making sure that people understand that beating Sherrod Brown is going to be tough, but we have to do it with the Republican agenda in place and I've done it."

GOP mudslinging

The campaign has featured numerous negative advertisements pitting Republicans on Republicans. Whether Republicans can back whoever wins Tuesday's primary remains to be seen. 

"We are having a competitive race and we are all each preparing ourselves for a race against Sherrod Brown," Dolan said. "I believe I'm going to come out on the other side. That means Republicans have to say, OK, we've had a spirited competitive race. Let's now go and rally around Dolan, who's our nominee, and beat Sherrod Brown.

"We control our own fate. Primaries are difficult. I get it. You know, we're asking people to pick amongst family, but once that is over, let's stand by our family."

While Moreno has the backing of Trump, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and outgoing Sen. Rob Portman have offered their support for Moreno. 

Democrats join the mudslinging

Meanwhile, it appears Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is weighing in on the race, with Senate Democrats campaigning for Moreno. The thought seems to be that Moreno would be an easier candidate to defeat in November. 

"I don't think the Democrats should play in a Republican primary," Dolan said. I think Chuck Schumer is clearly making a statement that he wants Republicans to pick Bernie because he'll be the easiest to beat."

Dolan weighs in on national abortion ban

One major issue in this year's election is on abortion. In November, Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution. But anything that is written in the state constitution can be overridden by federal laws. 

Dolan weighed in on whether he'd back national efforts to ban abortions. 

"I don't think that should be a priority of Congress," he said. "I think the states should take the lead, but I am concerned that if the states take the lead and late-term abortion becomes the norm around the country, I believe that is outside of the values of the United States of America, then I think the federal government should look at it.

"But I think that states need to evaluate where they want to be, but I am not going to sit back and let late-term abortion or abortion on demand, which is what Sherrod Brown wants, to become the norm in the United States."


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