Positioning himself as a conservative outsider businessman in the mold of former President Donald Trump, Westlake car dealer and tech entrepreneur Bernie Moreno announced Tuesday that he’s running for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Republican Rob Portman’s upcoming retirement.
The announcement from Moreno, 54, said he’s entering the 2022 race as a Republican to stop the “socialist” agenda, protect Trump’s gains and protect the American dream. It’s his first bid for public office. Moreno says he came to the United States as a child with his mother and siblings to flee socialism in their native Colombia. He believes that same ideology is rising in the United States, and he wants to fight back.
Moreno is joining a crowded field of candidates who are interested in Portman’s job. Other Republicans who have formally announced their campaigns for the seat are former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken and former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel. Businessman Mike Gibbons, who unsuccessfully sought the 2018 GOP nomination to run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is also weighing a run, and billionaire Peter Thiel has donated $10 million to a Super PAC that’s trying to recruit author J.D. Vance to seek the job as a Republican. Congressmen Mike Turner and Steve Stivers are among other Republicans considering a bid. Democrats who have expressed interest in the contest include U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of the Niles area and former state health director Dr. Amy Acton.
In a campaign announcement video that compares Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to “radicals like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara,” Moreno declares: “If we’re going to protect this country from the socialist left, and keep this precious idea built on the concept of freedom, then we need outsiders who back up their words with action.”
“This is personal to me,” Moreno says in the video. “My parents came here legally, because they wanted us to see that in America, we can accomplish anything.”
Moreno says he backs term limits, cracking down on China, protecting Trump’s policy victories, and fighting back “against cancel culture’s attempts to silence conservatives.”
His announcement lists steering committees of leaders from Ohio and across the national conservative movement who support his campaign and will advise it.
“I can think of no one better to represent the people of Ohio in the U.S. Senate than my friend Bernie Moreno,” said a statement from Grenell, who also served as Acting Director of National Intelligence in Trump’s Cabinet. “Bernie Moreno will be the DC outsider who won’t be concerned what the Washington types think of him. Just like President Donald J. Trump did, Bernie Moreno will challenge the political system and establishment of D.C.”