Ohio’s Up-for-Grabs Senate Seat Drawing 2022 GOP Hopefuls

Ohio businessman Bernie Moreno announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate as a “conservative outsider,” joining a growing Republican field in the closely watched 2022 race to replace retiring Senator Rob Portman.

Moreno, 54, a car dealership owner and chairman of the blockchain technology company Ownum, said he came to the U.S. as a child with his mother and siblings from Colombia, where he said he was surrounded by “the ideology of socialist radicals” such as Cuba’s Fidel Castro. Moreno says he’s committed to fighting socialism in America.

“If we’re going to protect this country from the socialist left and keep this precious idea built on the concept of freedom, then we need outsiders who back up their words with action,” Moreno said in his announcement video.

Moreno pointed out that voters sent Donald Trump to Washington as an outsider and businessman “to shake things up” and that “we need to protect his victories.” He’s also vowing not to take donations from corporate political action committees and says he’s a strong supporter of term limits.

He joins a field that already includes Josh Mandel, a former Ohio treasurer, and Jane Timken, a former Ohio Republican Party chairwoman. Other Republicans considering the race include businessman Mike Gibbons and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, who has support from technology billionaire Peter Thiel.

Ohio’s Up-for-Grabs Senate Seat Drawing 2022 GOP Hopefuls

Mandel and Timken are both running as staunch supporters of Trump and his “America First” agenda and are vying for his endorsement. Politico reported that Mandel, Timken, Gibbons and Moreno attended a private meeting with Trump at a fundraiser last month at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to discuss the race.

Both Timken and Mandel have also announced first quarter fund-raising totals ahead of the April 15 filing deadline, with Timken reporting more than $2.1 million in contributions from more than 1,200 donors and Mandel reporting raising $1.3 million.

Potential Democratic candidates include U.S. Representative Tim Ryan, who ran for the presidential nomination in 2020 and said he raised $1.2 million in the first quarter. Amy Acton, the former Ohio health director who gained notice for her role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic last year, said Tuesday she won’t be a candidate.

The pro-science group 314 Action Fund was encouraging Acton to run and had promised to support her from the $50 million it plans to spend on 2022 races.

Portman announced in January he won’t run for re-election in 2022, saying the country has become “increasingly polarized” over the past few decades, making it more difficult to find common ground. He’s one of five retiring Republican senators, with control of the Senate in the balance in the midterm elections.

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