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Republican Ohio Senate candidate Matt Dolan didn’t attract as much media attention as other candidates for most of the GOP primary – but he thinks he’ll pull off a win due to his focus on Ohio voters over national politicians.
“I do,” Dolan, a state senator, said when asked if he’s feeling momentum on the ground that’s reflected in some recent polls. “And I have felt it for some time because Ohio Republicans want somebody who’s talking about their financial security, their neighborhood security, their border security, international security.”
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Dolan separated himself from the four other top candidates competing in the GOP primary by not aggressively courting former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.
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In an interview at the Delaware County Republican Party Lincoln Reagan Dinner, the state senator made clear that he supports Trump’s policies. “President Trump was a Republican president who did some Republican ideas and executed on them. And our country was stronger. Our economy was better,” Dolan told Fox News Friday. But he argues Ohio’s Senate election shouldn’t be so centered on one man.
Trump recently endorsed former investment banker and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance in the GOP primary. That helped Vance surge in the polls – he commanded a 23% first place share in a Fox News Poll released last week. But that endorsement was seen as a major blow to fellow candidates Mike Gibbons, Josh Mandel and Jane Timken, all of whom pressed hard to demonstrate their loyalty to the former president.
That doesn’t seem to bother Dolan, who was the only candidate besides Vance to gain ground in the Fox News Poll since the last iteration, before the Trump endorsement. He was down double-digits still, with just 11%. Other polls show Dolan running even higher.
“Voters want to look forward,” Dolan said. “I’m not looking backwards. I’m focusing on stopping the Biden agenda and preparing for tomorrow’s opportunities where we set a Republican agenda.”
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“I don’t know what they can offer to Ohioans now.” Dolan added of the candidates who fought so hard for Trump’s backing but didn’t get it. “I don’t know what they can offer to Republicans that… want someone to be positive for what Republicans stand for and execute on that. I have. I’m offering that.”
Dolan’s also offering plenty of the standard GOP criticism of President Biden.
“GDP goes down, but the inflation rate goes up. It costs more to put food on your table for your family, costs more to fill up your gas tank,” Dolan said of Biden’s economy.
“He told American workers, Ohio workers, ‘we don’t need you to create our energy,'” Dolan added. “That is crazy. We’ve got to move on from that.”
Lacking flashy endorsements from national Republicans like some of the other candidates in the GOP primary – while also largely avoiding mudslinging and attacks – Dolan’s hasn’t been a mainstay of national news coverage.
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But he was recently endorsed by the editorial boards of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. And he’s used a $2 million TV ad buy down the stretch of the campaign to tell voters to “forget all their nonsense,” referring to the other candidates.
Dolan says he thinks his message may be enough to win Tuesday’s primary and to beat likely Democratic nominee Rep. Tim Ryan, R-Ohio, in the general election.
“I believe my message resonates with all of Ohio. Somebody who’s going to go and execute and fight for Ohio,” Dolan said.
“Frankly, I’ve been on the ballot. I’ve outperformed President Trump,” Dolan added. “I can appeal to the suburban voters. But the thing is with me, my message isn’t going to have to change. My message has always been about Ohio.”