GOP state Sen. Matt Dolan exploring US Senate run in Ohio

Gop State Sen. Matt Dolan Exploring Us Senate Run In Ohio
Andrew Welsh-Huggins

FILE—In this file photo from June 8, 2021, Ohio Senate Finance Chairman Matt Dolan, a Republican from Chagrin Falls, talks about the state's $75 billion budget in Columbus, Ohio. Dolan launched a listening tour Monday to explore a bid for Ohio's open U.S. Senate seat, casting himself as a pragmatic conservative who can be tough without adopting the vitriolic tone of some of his Trump-aligned rivals.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican state Sen. Matt Dolan launched a listening tour Monday to explore a bid for Ohio’s open U.S. Senate seat, casting himself as a tough but pragmatic politician in the tradition of exiting GOP Sen. Rob Portman and the late astronaut and Democratic Sen. John Glenn.

“These were statesmen, and that’s who Ohio has elected. I will be a statesman,” Dolan told The Associated Press, appearing to draw a contrast with the crowded field of Republicans vying for former President Donald Trump’s attention and endorsement.

Contenders include former state Republican chair Jane Timken, author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance and Cleveland businesspeople Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno. Like the ex-president, another candidate — former state treasurer Josh Mandel — has criticized immigrants, ethnic groups and Democrats on Twitter as part of his campaign.

Dolan, once called the “nicest meanest person” someone had met, said he tries not to resort to name-calling.

“I think you can be relentless and difficult in your pursuit of what you think is right,” he said. “You do not have to demean the other side.”

Dolan’s listening tour begins Tuesday. The 56-year-old, whose family owns the Cleveland Indians, said he plans to spend six or seven weeks assessing whether there’s adequate voter and financial support to proceed.

He pointed to his work as a state representative and senator to lessen Ohioans’ tax burden, reduce regulations for businesses and advocate for the health of Lake Erie as good for all Ohioans.

On social issues, Dolan defended his positions as reasoned.

He said all the abortion bills he’s supported have become law, for example, unlike the so-called heartbeat abortion ban — which he voted against — that’s tied up in federal court by a constitutional challenge.

“I vote on common-sense, conservative matters that make a difference in people’s lives,” he said.

Dolan also sponsored a package of firearm reforms proposed by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine after the deadly mass shooting in Dayton, challenging those who saw it as assailing Second Amendment rights. Despite initial bipartisan support, the bill stalled.

As chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Dolan just finished helping to negotiate the two-year, $75 billion state budget that included a 3% personal income tax cut for Ohioans and enacting a bipartisan school-funding solution that was years in the making.

“This race needs to be about Ohio, needs to be about job creation in Ohio, needs to be security for Ohioans and needs to be about economic growth,” he said. “I hope that my experience that has produced success in the areas that matter for Ohioans will resonate with folks.”

Dolan said he views the decision to change the Indians’ team name after 105 years as unfortunate but an example of how he would be able to prioritize his mission as a U.S. senator.

“Nobody understands the dangers of culture wars better than me and my family,” he said. “But, wearing that hat, our focus is to produce a winning team and to create an enjoyable fan experience. Any efforts we take away from those two, we’re not doing our jobs.”