CLEVELAND — Matt Dolan appears to be gearing up for another U.S. Senate run.
The Ohio state senator will announce his intentions this week to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2024, sources tell NBC's Henry J. Gomez. The 58-year-old reportedly left a voicemail for an Ohio GOP official stating he would indeed seek the Republican nomination.
Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians, previously served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 2005-10 before resigning to run for the new Cuyahoga County Executive position. He lost to Democrat Ed FitzGerald, but six years later was elected to represent suburban Cuyahoga County in the state senate's 24th district.
After winning reelection in 2020, Dolan decided to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Republican Rob Portman. During the primary, he made headlines as the only GOP candidate to push back on former President Donald Trump's lies that the 2020 election had been stolen, and despite sharply criticizing the Biden administration on issues like immigration and inflation, he also vocally supported the bipartisan infrastructure bill Portman championed and President Joe Biden signed.
For his part, Trump threw his support behind venture capitalist and author JD Vance, saying of Dolan, "Anybody that changes the name of the once storied Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians should not be running for the United States Senate representing the Great People of Ohio." That endorsement proved to be the difference in a close race, and despite a late surge in the polls, Dolan wound up finishing third in the primary with 23% of the vote, behind the nominee Vance (32%) and former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (24%).
Dolan endorsed Vance in the general election, which he won by six points over Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan. However, the Republican landscape has somewhat changed since, as the party gained only a small majority in the House and failed to capture the Senate after many of Trump's handpicked candidates lost in swing states and districts. Even in more conservative Ohio, Vance still ran almost 10 points behind GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, who also distanced himself from Trump's election falsehoods and withstood primary challenges before handily defeating former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
Yet Trump did end up endorsing DeWine before November, something he may be less apt to do with Dolan given his past incendiary remarks. But the disappointments of the 2022 midterms have left some Republican leaders wondering if the former president has become more of a campaign liability, and Dolan seems like he might want to take advantage of the new attitudes.
"What we witnessed nationally should convince us the country is ready for substantive candidates, not personalities and election deniers," Dolan told county GOP chairs in a recent email, per NBC.
Here in Northeast Ohio, the Dolan family has deep roots and strong name recognition, with Matt's father Larry purchasing the then Indians in 1999 and brother Paul now acting as the club's controlling owner. Billionaire uncle Charles also founded HBO as well as New York's Cablevision, and cousin James runs the NBA's Knicks.
Brown, a 70-year-old Mansfield native, is currently Ohio's only statewide elected Democrat. Ironically, the former congressman got to the Senate in 2006 by unseating the incumbent DeWine, and later won second and third terms over Mandel and former Rep. Jim Renacci, respectively.
Dolan is prevented by Ohio law from seeking a third term in the Ohio Senate.