Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Republican Ohio Senate Hopeful Bernie Moreno Tied to Gay Dating Profile

Scandal Over Gay Dating Profile Complicates Trump-Backed Moreno's Ohio Senate Bid.

Bernie Moreno
Doral Chenoweth-The Columbus Dispatch

In a shocking revelation that could upend the critical Ohio Senate race, the Associated Press has reported that Bernie Moreno, the leading Republican candidate to run against Sherrod Brown, was linked to a profile on a gay hookup website in 2008. This rumor has the GOP establishment reeling, as they fear this scandal could cost them a crucial Senate seat if Moreno ends up winning the Republican primary.

Moreno, a wealthy entrepreneur who has embraced far-right stances on abortion and LGBTQ rights to curry favor with the MAGA base, received the coveted endorsement of disgraced former President Donald Trump. But the revelation that someone used Moreno’s email to create an account seeking “Men for 1-on-1 sex” on Adult Friend Finder has left many Republicans questioning his viability as a candidate.

Moreno’s campaign team scrambled to contain the damage, claiming a former intern created the account as a “juvenile prank.” However, Republican operatives and elected officials in Washington and Ohio are deeply worried that the mere existence of the profile will irreparably harm Moreno’s chances, with some even requesting a formal data review to confirm the link.

Moreno’s hypocrisy on LGBTQ rights has also raised eyebrows. Despite having a gay son and previously supporting anti-discrimination measures, he has recently adopted the standard Republican playbook of accusing LGBTQ advocates of pushing a “radical agenda” to appeal to the party’s bigoted base.

The Ohio Senate race holds immense significance for the balance of power in Washington. If Republicans manage to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, it would go a long way in flipping the Senate. However, the party has struggled to field a strong contender, with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose suffering an embarrassing defeat last year when voters approved a measure that enshrines abortion rights in the Ohio state constitution.

As the ugly primary reaches its final days, Trump is set to hold a rally in support of Moreno, a major test of the former president’s influence in the crucial swing state. Trump’s continued backing of Moreno, despite the scandalous revelations, underscores the GOP’s willingness to overlook serious character flaws and embrace extremism in their desperate pursuit of power.

Democrats have launched a multi-million dollar ad blitz to boost Moreno, whom they view as the weakest potential opponent for Senator Brown. If successful, it could serve as a further indictment of Trump’s ability to pick viable candidates as his hand-picked candidates have failed miserably in the past.

In the highly competitive Ohio Senate race, three prominent candidates are vying for the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown in the upcoming election. According to recent polling averages, the front-runners are Bernie Moreno, Matt Dolan, and Frank LaRose, each bringing a unique background and set of priorities to the campaign trail.

Leading the pack is Bernie Moreno, a Colombian immigrant who has secured the coveted endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Moreno made his fortune as the proprietor of several car dealerships and has become a vocal advocate for cryptocurrency technology. In 2022, Moreno ran for Senate as a staunch MAGA supporter but eventually withdrew from the race before the primary election, a decision that paved the way for Senator J.D. Vance.

Close behind Moreno is Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team. Dolan represents the more traditional, establishment wing of the Republican Party and previously ran for the Senate in 2022. During that campaign, he faced criticism from the far right for his refusal to endorse the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, a stance that likely hindered his performance among Trump loyalists.

Rounding out the top three is Frank LaRose, the current Ohio Secretary of State and a self-described Trump supporter. LaRose embodies the archetypal party insider, steadily climbing the political ladder through his service in various state government roles.

The winner of this hotly contested primary will face off against Senator Sherrod Brown, a pro-labor populist who secured reelection in 2018 by a 7-point margin. However, Brown’s prospects for another term are threatened by the growing trend of white, non-college-educated voters in the state shifting their allegiance to the Republican Party.

Despite being the favorite to become the Republican nominee, Moreno’s advantage is far from insurmountable. Early polls showed LaRose ahead of the pack in the initial stages of the primary contest. However, as 2024 began, the race tightened considerably between Moreno and Dolan.

Ohio GOP Senate Primary Polling

The latest East Carolina University survey gives Dolan a slight two-point edge of 33% to 31% over Moreno, with LaRose lagging behind in third at 23%. Meanwhile, a separate poll conducted by SurveyUSA puts Moreno four percentage points ahead of Dolan. Recent polls like these indicate that the primary has evolved into a close two-candidate battle, with LaRose falling behind Moreno and Dolan.

Ohio Senate Polls

According to polling data, Sherrod Brown has maintained a clear lead against all three of these potential Republican challengers in the upcoming Ohio Senate election. Of the three Republican primary candidates, state Senator Matt Dolan has consistently polled the closest to Brown in hypothetical general election matchups. This likely explains the Democratic Party’s strategy of running ads aimed at boosting Moreno’s candidacy, seeing Moreno as a less formidable opponent than Dolan in the fall election.

While the Ohio Republican Senate primary has tightened in recent weeks, the emergence of scandal surrounding frontrunner Bernie Moreno threatens to upend the race. But what should be more concerning for Republicans is the prospect of Moreno as their nominee against popular incumbent Sherrod Brown. With Brown already holding comfortable leads over all three GOP challengers, Democrats have wisely spent money boosting the candidate they view as most beatable. If Moreno survives this scandal to win the primary, it could hand Democrats a crucial Senate seat on a silver platter.

Of course, the primary is not over, and Matt Dolan or Frank LaRose still may prevail. But Republicans in Ohio and beyond must face a sobering reality: their party is gravitating towards far-right candidates that can’t appeal to moderate voters or withstand basic scrutiny. As Democrats focus on protecting Brown’s seat, the Ohio GOP’s embrace of hypocritical figures like Moreno may result in Brown earning another 6 years in office.