Car salesman Bernie Moreno wins Ohio Senate primary with Trump’s backing

A car dealership owner is the Republican nominee for US Senate in Ohio, having won Tuesday’s primary election against an incumbent state senator and the Buckeye State’s elections chief.

Bernie Moreno was declared the race’s victor around 8.35 pm with 41 per cent of the vote; he led his closest challenger, Matt Dolan, by 4 percentage points when networks made the call. He’ll face off against an incumbent Democratic senator with far greater name recognition in the fall, though notably in a state Donald Trump won twice.

He was plucked from virtual political obscurity by the former president last year, having lost out on securing Mr Trump’s endorsement in his only prior run for Senate in 2022. That year saw author JD Vance, another political newcomer, win the GOP nomination and eventual general election against Congressman Tim Ryan. Mr Vance, once his rival, is now one of the Moreno campaign’s loudest (and certainly highest-ranking) in-state supporters.

Mr Trump himself visited the state on Saturday in a last-ditch effort to push Mr Moreno over the top after polls showed the race entering its final week with as many as four in ten voters undecided. The businessman had touted his Trump endorsement in advertising for months, but had failed to pull ahead of Mr Dolan in a convincing manner and risked being the first prominent Trump endorsee to lose a Republican primary this election cycle.

That, of course, didn’t happen. A final Emerson College poll of the race released on Monday showed Mr Moreno pulling ahead as undecideds made their final choices, the Trump rally likely a factor. A number of Trump fans entering the Dayton rally on Saturday told The Independent that they knew next to nothing about either Mr Moreno or his opponents, but would likely pull the lever for the Trump-backed frontrunner solely due to the support of the former president.

He is expected to make remarks about his victory at a watch event in Cleveland Tuesday evening.