Donald Trump is fixated on taking down a long-shot Senate candidate in Ohio.
The former president has been pestering aides and allies with questions about Matt Dolan, a wealthy GOP candidate who has accused Trump of lying about his 2020 election loss, but his interest in the Republican primary could potentially backfire if he backs the wrong candidate in a crowded field, reported Politico.
“In a divided field, anybody willing and able to deploy those kind of personal resources is a credible threat, even though he’s out of step with the Republican base across a whole range of issues,” said Luke Thompson, a Republican strategist backing venture capitalist J.D. Vance.
The 57-year-old Dolan, a state senator whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians, says he voted for Trump both times and would support him again in 2024, but he's not running an explicitly pro-Trump campaign like JD Vance, Josh Mandel and Jane Timken.
"The other candidates have been so obsessed with appeasing interests outside Ohio, they forgot what they are supposed to be fighting for in Ohio,” said Dolan strategist Chris Maloney. “We like that contrast.”
Although Dolan hasn't been fixated on Trump, the former president has been fixated on him -- publicly and privately.
"I know of at least one person in the race who I won’t be endorsing,” Trump has said. “The Republican Party has too many RINOs!”
Trump has privately expressed concern about the quality of the GOP candidates competing for his endorsement, and Dolan has moved into third place in polls behind Mandel and investment banker Mike Gibbons after a recent TV ad campaign that he and his family bankrolled.
“I can assure you that Matt Dolan appreciates and supports the many great accomplishments of the president during his term of office, as do I,” said donor James Wert, who served as Trump’s 2020 finance chair in the state. "[I've] come to the conclusion that Matt Dolan is best positioned among the field to win both the Republican primary in May and also win the general election in November.”