Trump supporters Moreno and Merrin dominate GOP primary to challenge two vulnerable Ohio Democrats this fall. (Part-2)

Moreno, a Bogota native who largely funded his campaign, won by portraying himself as a political outsider who would change Washington, like Trump. He and affiliated PACs called Dolan and LaRose “career politicians.”

Dolan rallied the party's non-Trump wing before Election Day while LaRose struggled for a lane after losing Trump's endorsement. He received endorsements from Ohio's top establishment Republicans, Gov. Mike DeWine and former Sen. Rob Portman. Dolan called losing a “gut punch” but thanked Portman and DeWine for their support in his Tuesday concession speech.

To have Rob Portman and Mike DeWine to look at this race and say they’re willing to put their years of experience behind me, you know, it’s a sad loss tonight,” he told the Cleveland crowd. I'm happy Rob and Mike DeWine reached out to me.

The former state senator and Green Beret elected twice statewide, LaRose, received more $200 or less in grassroots donations than his opponents. His $250,000 loan compared to $4.2 million Dolan lent $9 million and Moreno loaned his campaign. “I knew this was going to be difficult right from the start, but I’m not someone who backs down from a challenge,” he said. “We put our heart and soul into this fight, and I have no regrets.”

Moreno and Dolan ran in the tumultuous 2022 Senate election, which Trump-backed memoirist and venture entrepreneur JD Vance won. Trump asked Moreno to pull out of the primary; Dolan placed third. That year, Vance defeated Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in the general election

Trump's Monday endorsement of Merrin in Ohio's 9th Congressional District, held by Kaptur, the longest-serving woman in Congress, after a months-long tug of war. The race had quick entries and exits, candidate gaffes, and bouncing endorsements. Vance, House Speaker Mike Johnson, and Trump friend Rep. Jim Jordan were involved in three campaigns.

Things eased down when Trump-aligned contender J.R. Majewski, who lost poorly to Kaptur in 2022, abruptly abandoned the campaign earlier this month after being criticized for criticizing Special Olympics participants. Three candidates remained: Merrin, sponsored by Johnson and Trump as of Monday; Riedel, backed by Jordan; and former Napoleon Mayor Steve Lankenau.

After losing a bruising speaker race, term-limited fourth-term state legislator Merrin, 37, spearheaded an intraparty rebellion in the Ohio House last year. After tapes of Riedel denouncing Trump raised party concerns over his electability, he entered the congressional campaign on the filing deadline.

The 2022 nomination went to Majewski over Riedel, 57. He raised about $1.1 million before primary day, 10 times Merrin's. Merrin has received over $750,000 from national Republicans through the Congressional Leadership Fund.

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