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GOP state Sen. Matt Dolan jumps into U.S. Senate race to replace Portman

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican state Sen. Matt Dolan formally entered the race for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat on Monday, adding a centrist voice more akin to exiting Republican Rob Portman’s than to the crowded, Trump-aligned field of GOP hopefuls.

In a telephone interview, Dolan said Portman’s work building a bipartisan coalition to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure package — a bill he supported and other Senate candidates opposed — as an example of the results-driven effort Ohioans want from a senator.

“I am the only one with experience,” he said. “I have a record of results, and what Republicans want is somebody to go and engage and get things done.”

The 56-year-old, whose family owns the Cleveland Indians, spent weeks on his listening tour ahead of Monday’s announcement. He began it by casting himself as a tough but pragmatic politician in the tradition of Portman and the late astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn — the latter a bold reference to a Democrat in a state where politics are increasingly polarized.

“After meeting with Republicans, conservative activists and community leaders across Ohio in recent weeks, it’s clear that the focus of the race for U.S. Senate has yet to be about our people, our interests, and our beloved state,” Dolan said in his announcement.

He joins a field that includes former state Republican chair Jane Timken, former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, author and venture capitalist JD Vance and Cleveland businesspeople Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno.

In particular, Mandel has adopted Trump’s style in his campaign, criticizing immigrants, ethnic groups and Democrats on Twitter, blasting the media as the enemy and condemning COVID-19 vaccine and masking requirements.

Dolan, meanwhile, has said someone once called him the “nicest meanest person” they had met and that he tries not to resort to name-calling.

Democrats predicted Dolan’s entry into the race will do little to tone down the rhetoric, however.

“Add Matt Dolan to the long list of out-of-touch millionaires vying for the GOP Senate nomination,” spokesperson Michael Beyer said in a statement. “With this latest addition to the GOP clown show, this primary is sure to get nastier, more divisive and more expensive all while Ohio voters and their interests get left behind.”

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