CLEVELAND — When Matt Dolan got into the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in late 2021 he was the last of the big name candidates to do so; for 2024 he is the first. Dolan announced his decision to run Tuesday hoping to be the party's candidate to challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) next November.
Dolan entered a crowded Republican field in the primary to replace the retiring Rob Portman last year joining the eventual winner JD Vance, Josh Mandel, Jane Timken, Bernie Moreno and Mike Gibbons.
The only candidate at the time who spoke out against the actions of former President Donald Trump, Dolan carved a lane for himself and came on strong at the end, placing third just about 6/10 of a percent behind second place finisher Mandel.
It's momentum Dolan looks to carry into this run. "There's not only momentum in the campaign sense where I have a ground game, I have donors, I have people willing to engage and support my candidacy, but again, the midterm election showed what Americans want," he said.
"The races where Republicans put up people looking to the past not to the future, they lost. We need to focus on the future. I know that's what's attracting people to me and that's the momentum that's moving forward."
"People are ready for someone to go to Washington to engage and fix the problems," Dolan said.
Based on the state's Republican leaning in recent elections, Sherrod Brown being the last non-judicial statewide Democrat to win a race in his last re-election bid in 2018, Dolan said he anticipates more GOP hopefuls to enter the race. Among those thought to be considering a run are Moreno and Secretary of State Frank LaRose. He told News 5 he isn't daunted by the prospect.
"Unlike anybody else, I run my own campaign. I am not dictated by others. I know what I can accomplish, I know what I have done and that's what I'm going to continue to run on."
As for being the first to announce their intentions Dolan said it's really not that early. "This is a presidential year which the primary is significantly moved up so the filing deadline for this race is in 2023."
The man who beat Dolan and the others for the GOP senate nomination last spring and eventual winner, JD Vance, told News 5 Tuesday "I admire anybody of any party willing to throw their hat in the ring. I certainly wish Matt the best, we'll see what happens here and who else gets in the Republican primary."
Vance said he's open to talk with Dolan and any other hopeful and would be honest with them. "I certainly will talk to Matt about how I see the landscape and what I can provide there and I'll do that with any candidate who runs in the Republican primary so I'm going to be an open book."
Does he anticipate making an endorsement? "I think I probably will endorse at some point but I don't know. It depends on who runs, it depends on (who) they're running against."