WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former president Donald Trump waded into the Ohio Senate race on Tuesday by endorsing Republican businessman Bernie Moreno to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in next year’s election.

What You Need To Know

  • Former president Donald Trump endorsed Republican Bernie Moreno to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown next year

  • The endorsement could change the trajectory of the competitive three-way primary race

  • National Republicans have made Brown a top target next year in an effort to retake control of the Senate

Trump announced the decision on his social media site. 

“It’s time for the entire Republican Party to UNITE around Bernie’s campaign for Senate, so that we can have a BIG victory in what will be the most important Election in American History," he wrote.

Trump praised Moreno’s lack of political experience, saying a political outsider would better represent Ohioans’ interests.

Republican Sen. J.D. Vance, who had previously endorsed Moreno, had urged Trump to do the same.

“We don’t just want career politicians," Vance said. "We want people who have accomplished something before they got into Washington. Bernie Moreno checks all those boxes.”

Moreno was born to a wealthy family in Bogotá, Colombia. He moved to the U.S. when he was 5 years old and became a citizen when he was 18. He became a successful car dealer and used his fortune to bankroll a Senate campaign in 2022 that he ultimately lost to J.D. Vance.

Vance won the 2022 Republican primary after receiving Trump’s endorsement.

Before the endorsement, Moreno had the lowest favorability ratings of the three Republican Senate candidates in this year’s race, according to the latest poll from Emerson College.

Moreno’s favorability rating was 25 percent, versus 32 percent for both Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ohio State Sen. Matt Dolan.

With three months still to go before the primary, though, Trump’s endorsement could change everything.

“That will immediately shift the advantage to that candidate because it is a Republican primary, and Donald Trump is very popular with Republican primary voters,” said Dave Cohen, professor of political science and director of the Applied Politics Program at the University of Akron.

Trump’s endorsements helped several GOP Senate candidates win Republican primaries last year but ultimately did not help many of them win their general elections in November.

Moreno posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he was honored and thankful to have Trump’s endorsement.

“With President Trump back in the White House, we will Make America Great Again!" he posted.

Brown maintains a small lead over all three Republican candidates, according to recent polls. He still faces stiff headwinds in a state that has shifted right since he was first elected to the Senate in 2006. He will also be on the same ticket as President Joe Biden, whose polling numbers hit a new low this month.

“Presidents have big coattails that help their candidates," Cohen said. "In this case President Biden is a drag on Brown. He’s more of an anchor. Sherrod Brown will have to overcome that."

National Republicans have made Brown a top target next year in an effort to retake control of the Senate.

Democrats have a slender 51-49 Senate majority, and losing just two seats would shift control to Republicans.