Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Frank LaRose, launched a bid for the U.S. Senate on Monday, joining GOP efforts to try to unseat Democrat Sherrod Brown next year.
LaRose, 44, is in his second term as Ohio’s elections chief, one of the state’s highest profile jobs. He managed to walk a delicate line between GOP factions divided by falsehoods sewn by former President Donald Trump over election integrity to score a convincing 59% of the statewide vote in his 2022 reelection bid.
He first took office in 2019, with just over 50% of the vote, and previously spent eight years as a state senator and did a turn as a U.S. Army Green Beret.
LaRose already has competition for the GOP nomination, including State Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns baseball’s Cleveland Guardians, and Bernie Moreno, a wealthy Cleveland business owner whose bid Trump has encouraged.
Dolan made his first Senate run last year, investing nearly $11 million of his own money — the seventh-highest among self-funders nationally, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Though he joined the ugly and protracted primary relatively late, Dolan managed to finish third amid a crowded field.
Moreno, the father-in-law of Trump-endorsed Republican U.S. Rep. Max Miller, was the 17th highest among self-funders nationally — in a 2022 Senate primary packed with millionaires. Republican J.D. Vance, a venture capitalist noted for his memoir-turned-movie, “Hillbilly Elegy,” ultimately won the seat.
Next year’s successful GOP nominee will take on one of Ohio’s winningest and longest-serving politicians. Voters first sent Brown to the U.S. Senate in 2007, after 14 years as a congressman, two terms as secretary of state and eight years as a state representative.
But Brown, with among the Senate’s most liberal voting records, is viewed as more vulnerable than ever this time around. That’s because the once-reliable bellwether state now appears to be firmly Republican.
Voters twice elected Trump by wide margins, and, outside the state Supreme Court, Brown is the only Democrat to win election statewide since 2006.