PAINESVILLE, Ohio — Ohio State Senator Matt Dolan Tuesday began his Ohio Matters listening tour as he weighs whether to seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate next year. Dolan is meeting with around two dozen Republicans in Lake County, a process he'll repeat across the state this summer.
"I want to know that there's momentum for me that they are looking for a person with my success," Dolan told News 5. "We got to fill a bunch of cups we got to fill the voting cup, we got to fill the donor cup, we got to fill the activist cup. So as those cups fill we'll see an opportunity for a victory and we'll take it."
News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University said it's a wise approach.
"I think its very wise that Senator Dolan is doing this as a listening tour first to see what Ohioans really think in terms of candidates to replace Senator Portman," Sutton said. "I think the lane he'll be trying to carve out is classifying himself as a conservative particularly on fiscal issues, he's chair of the senate finance committee in Ohio. He has carved out a lane of fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, not spending on things that he sees as too much in the way of social programs."
Dolan is a Republican who hasn't hesitated to speak out against former President Trump and will seek a more moderate lane in a primary where other hopefuls are focusing heavy on the right.
Jeff Frischkorn fired several questions at Dolan Tuesday. He said after he sees him more in the mold of another fiscal conservative the late George Voinovich.
"I'm of that kind of persuasion, I think our party has drifted too far to the right and I see nothing wrong with a big tent and I think Matt Dolan can be part of that big tent," Frischkorn said.
But Ohio is a state that went for President Trump by eight points, and Lake County went for him by nearly 14 so is there room for a hopeful like Dolan? Becky Lynch of Mentor says yes.
"There's room for everyone in a primary and then we all reunite behind the one who wins," the Lake County Recorder said.
Dolan may be known in Northeast Ohio as part of the family that owns the Indians but he'll need to get his message out to the rest of the state that doesn't and that will take money which those already in the race have been busy raising.
"Fundraising is always going to be a concern in a race," Dolan said. "I'm in an exploratory committee day one, and we've had some interesting donors come up and already write checks, so again, I believe over the course of time the donors are going to have an opportunity just like the voters are going to have an opportunity to decide whether they want Dolan to go to run for the U.S. Senate."