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Ohio GOP Secretary of State Frank LaRose announces 2024 Senate campaign

Election 2024 Senate Ohio
File: Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks to the Fairfield County Lincoln Republican Club in Pickerington, Ohio, on March 24, 2022.  Paul Vernon / AP

Ohio Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced a bid for the U.S. Senate Monday, joining the GOP primary field to try to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown next year.

LaRose, 44, is in his second term as Ohio's elections chief, one of the state's highest profile jobs. He has managed to walk the fine line between GOP factions divided by former President Donald Trump's false claims over election integrity, winning 59% of the statewide vote in his 2022 reelection bid.

"Like a lot of Ohioans, I'm concerned about the direction of our country," LaRose said in announcing his bid. "As the father of three young girls, I'm not willing to sit quietly while the woke left tries to cancel the American Dream. We have a duty to defend the values that made America the hope of the world."

LaRose first took office in 2019 with just over 50% of the vote, and before that was in the state Senate for eight years. He also served as a U.S. Army Green Beret.

LaRose already faces competition for the GOP nomination, including State Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, and Bernie Moreno, a wealthy Cleveland business owner whose bid Trump has encouraged.

Dolan made his first Senate run last year and invested nearly $11 million of his own money, making him the seventh-highest among self-funders nationally, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Although he joined the ugly and protracted primary relatively late, Dolan managed to finish third amid a crowded field.

Moreno is the father-in-law of Trump-endorsed Republican Rep. Max Miller, and was the 17th highest among self-funders nationally — in a 2022 Senate primary packed with millionaires. Republican J.D. Vance, a venture capitalist noted for his memoir-turned-movie "Hillbilly Elegy," ultimately won the seat.

The GOP nominee will take on one of Ohio's winningest and longest-serving politicians. Voters first sent Brown to the Senate in 2007 after 14 years as a congressman, two terms as secretary of state and eight years as a state representative.

But Brown, with among the Senate's most liberal voting records, is viewed as more vulnerable than ever this time around. That's because the once-reliable bellwether state now appears to be firmly Republican.

Voters twice elected Trump by wide margins and, outside the state Supreme Court, Brown is the only Democrat to win election statewide since 2006.

Reeves Oyster, a spokesperson for Brown, said Republicans are headed into another "slugfest" for the Senate that will leave whoever emerges damaged.

"In the days ahead, the people of Ohio should ask themselves: What is Frank LaRose really doing for us?" she said in a statement.

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