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Republican Senate candidate Matt Dolan in Parma Heights, Ohio, on May 3, 2022.
Republican Senate candidate Matt Dolan in Parma Heights, Ohio, on May 3, 2022.Gene J. Puskar / AP

Ohio Senate race ad wars begin with new spot aimed at Sherrod Brown

GOP state Sen. Matt Dolan launched a statewide ad campaign targeting Brown on immigration.


The TV ad wars in Ohio's Senate race have officially begun, with one of the GOP contenders launching a new spot targeting Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, a top Republican target next year.

Republican state Sen. Matt Dolan announced a new statewide ad campaign on Tuesday, releasing a minute-long ad targeting Brown on immigration, which will air on TV, radio and digital platforms, according to a press release from Dolan's campaign.

The ad features footage of Brown's interview on Meet the Press in December, where he said, "I don’t hear a lot about immigration from voters except people on the far right that always want to gain political advantage by talking about it."

The ad then cuts to Dolan standing along the southern border and he says, "I'm at our southern border today because Sherrod Brown is dead wrong. From violent crime to sex trafficking and deadly fentanyl, open borders are a direct threat to Ohio families."

Dolan's ad goes on to tout his own background as a prosecutor and state legislator and he promises to "get tough on illegal immigration" if elected.

It is not yet clear how much money Dolan’s campaign is spending on the new ad, but it appears to be the first TV spot from a Republican in the race. So far just $250,000 has been spent on ads in the Senate race, largely from Brown's campaign, which has spent on digital ads, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.

While Dolan's first ad focuses squarely on Brown, he'll first have to prevail in the GOP primary before taking on Brown in November. Dolan came in third place in last year's Senate GOP primary, where he won 23% of the vote in a crowded field. Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, loaned and donated $10.6 million of his own money to his unsuccessful 2022 campaign, and he's already loaned his 2024 campaign $3 million.

That could boost Dolan's campaign on the airwaves, but his campaign was also one of the top ad spenders in last year's primary and he still fell short.

This year, Dolan again faces competition for the GOP nomination. Businessman Bernie Moreno, who is tied to former President Donald Trump, is running. Moreno also ran for Senate last year but dropped out of the race before the primary. GOP Secretary of State Frank LaRose is also expected to jump into the race.

Brown is a top target in 2024 as Republicans as one of three Democrats up for re-election in states Trump carried in 2020. The GOP needs a net gain of just two Senate seats to take control of the chamber, or one if a Republican wins the White House since the vice president casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate.