Ohio Republican Bernie Moreno on Thursday dropped out of the state’s Senate primary, leaving behind a crowded field packed with other staunch allies of former President TrumpDonald TrumpConservative leader O’Toole ousted in Canada Biden nominee faces scrutiny over fintech work, compensation Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon deploying 3,000 troops to Europe MORE.
Moreno, a car dealer and blockchain businessman, said in a statement that he was exiting the race after a private conversation with Trump. He said the two agreed that crowding the field with too many Trump-aligned candidates put the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Defense & National Security — Governors on notice over vaccine mandate Hillicon Valley — Presented by Cisco — App bill gains steam This week: Democrats return to Russia tensions, looming Supreme Court fight MORE (R) at risk.
“I asked for a private meeting with President Trump this afternoon to discuss the state of the Ohio Senate race. I am a businessman, not a politician. Business leaders recognize patterns before they happen. After talking to President Trump we both agreed this race has too many Trump candidates and could cost the MAGA movement a conservative seat,” Moreno said.
“We must regain control of the United States Senate and eliminate the possibility of career DC politicians like [Rep.] Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanFive big takeaways from year-end FEC filings Cooper becomes latest House Democrat to not seek reelection Marjorie Taylor Greene endorses JD Vance in Ohio Senate race MORE from representing Ohio,” he added, referencing the likely Democratic nominee. “Therefore, today I am ending my U.S. Senate campaign and will return to the private sector. I will focus my efforts on supporting the candidate that wins President Trump’s endorsement.”
Moreno had been among the candidates vying for Trump’s endorsement, an imprimatur that would hold significant sway among the Republican electorate in a state the former president won by about 8 points twice.
Moreno had tapped Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne ConwayKellyanne Conway memoir set for May release Pennsylvania Republican David McCormick launches Senate campaign McCormick drawing support from Trump alumni ahead of Pennsylvania Senate bid MORE, a senior staffer in the Trump White House, as an adviser, and had poured $3.75 million of his own money to his campaign. He also launched a multimillion-dollar ad blitz in December.
Left in the primary field is a cavalcade of candidates lurching to the right, including “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance, former state treasurer Josh Mandel, state Sen. Matt Dolan, investment banker Mike Gibbons and former Ohio state GOP chair Jane Timken. The primary is still a jump ball, though Trump’s discussion with Moreno suggests he’s keeping an eye on it — and an endorsement from him would likely anoint a front-runner.
In a statement, Trump said he was “very impressed” with Moreno and is determined to put an ally in Portman’s seat.
“He has done much for Ohio and loves his State and our great MAGA Movement,” Trump said of Moreno. “His decision will help ensure the MAGA Ticket wins BIG, as it is all over the Country. Thank you, Bernie, for your support and keep fighting!”