CLEVELAND — Former President Donald Trump, who played a major role in shaping Senate races in last year's midterms, waded into Ohio's brewing 2024 slugfest Wednesday.
In a post on his Truth Social media site, Trump offered encouraging words for Bernie Moreno, a businessman who filed paperwork this week to seek the Republican nomination to challenge longtime Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown next year.
"Word is that Bernie Moreno, the highly respected businessman from the GREAT STATE of OHIO, and the father-in-law of fantastic young Congressman, Max Miller, is thinking of running for the Senate," Trump posted. "He would not be easy to beat, especially against Brown, one of the worst in the Senate!"
Trump, who has launched another campaign for president, has not yet leapt into 2024 Senate races to the same degree he did in 2022. His praise of Moreno falls short of an endorsement. But it's a signal to others running or preparing to run in Ohio's GOP primary that he is closely watching the state, where his support last year lifted author and venture capitalist JD Vance out of a crowded and messy primary and into an open Senate seat.
The 2024 field already features state Sen. Matt Dolan, who finished third in last year's primary. Secretary of State Frank LaRose is also considering a bid. Moreno is expected to officially kick off his campaign with an event next week near Cincinnati.
Moreno briefly was a candidate in 2022, as well, but dropped out after meeting with Trump and seeing no path to the nomination.
Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians, was the one Republican in the 2022 race who did not aggressively court Trump's endorsement.
Moreno also has had his differences with Trump.
During the 2016 election, he called then-candidate Trump a "maniac" and "lunatic" in private correspondence that NBC News later obtained. He since has aligned himself with the former president. Moreno's daughter worked on Trump's 2020 re-election campaign and last year married Miller, another former Trump aide.
"Thank you sir!" Moreno tweeted later Wednesday, referencing Trump's post.