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Dolan surges late in Ohio GOP Senate primary, says voters ‘leaving some other candidates’ to back his campaign

Ohio Republican Senate candidate Matt Dolan says he believes his campaign is bringing over supporters of other candidates in the final stretch before primary day, as reports indicate he’s building significant momentum

 “I was the last person into this race, so the  undecideds have had multiple times to go with any other candidate. So as they’re becoming aware of me, that’s where I’m rising in the polls,” Dolan told Fox News in a Sunday interview at an Ottawa County Republican Women’s Club event.  

“We’re getting a lot of undecideds to come for us, I think we’re getting some people leaving some other candidates,” Dolan, an Ohio state senator, added. “They want somebody who’s singularly focused on going to Washington to fight the Biden administration, fight for Ohioans and make America strong.”

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Dolan mingled with voters over lunch at the event, which served barbecue chicken, cole slaw, potatoes and baked goods. 

 Dolan is the only major candidate in the contentious and expensive GOP primary who didn’t fight hard for former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. 

He says he’ll support Trump-style conservative policies in office, but doesn’t want to run a nationalized race like other candidates are. 

“My message is talking about Ohio, taking about Ohioans’ security, talking about Ohio’s economic conditions, taking on the Biden administration,” he said. “That’s resonating. We knew it would resonate, and we feel good going into the last 48 hours that as people are paying attention to the race they’ll know Dolan’s the only person that’s been taking about from Ohio from the beginning.” 

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Dolan’s advisers have been predicting a late surge for weeks. There was some indication of that in the most recent Fox News Poll of the race, which showed Dolan as the only candidate besides venture capitalist and “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance to build support since early March. 

The poll was conducted in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s endorsement of Vance. 

Ohio state Sen. Matt Dolan, who is running in the state's Senate GOP primary, speaks with a voter at an Ottawa Republican Women's Club event in Port Clinton, Ohio. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

More recent reports show Dolan not just building momentum, but in genuine striking distance of winning the race ahead of Tuesday’s primary election. 

Meanwhile, other candidates are still trading jabs over Trump’s endorsement. Investment banker Mike Gibbons, former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel continue to attack Vance over comments he made in 2016 that were highly critical of Trump and his voters. 

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Those candidates were handed more ammunition Sunday when Trump stumbled over Vance’s name in a Nebraska rally. “J.P., right? J.D. Mandel,” Trump said, when referring to Vance as the Ohio candidate he endorsed. 

Gibbons campaign immediately seized the moment, saying Vance’s “MAGA credentials, are fake.”  

“Obviously J.D. Vance not only said some derogatory comments about President Trump but more importantly he said derogatory comments about the Trump voter,” Timken said of Vance Friday. 

Ohio Republican Senate candidate Matt Dolan speaks with a voter at the Delaware County Republican Party Lincoln Reagan Dinner in Columbus, Ohio, on April 29, 2022. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)

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“I don’t think he made a good decision coming into this race, particularly this late in the game,” Gibbons said Sunday. “He took a guy that was single digits and made him competitive…. and I think a lot of Republicans in the state, conservatives in this state are concerned about that. They don’t want to be told who to vote for by some guy from the West coast.”

Donald Trump Jr., however, touted Vance Sunday as the “only candidate running for Senate in Ohio who my father and I trust to fight back against the RINO establishment and put America First.”

Dolan says that not only is his message hitting home with GOP primary voters, but that his approach will put Republicans in the best position to win in November. 

“The thing is with me, my message isn’t going to have to change. My message has always been about Ohio,” Dolan said in an interview with Fox News Friday. 

Voters will go to the polls in the high-profile, expensive and contentious Senate primary on Tuesday, with Vance, Gibbons, Dolan and Mandel all seemingly within striking distance in many polls. And with a massive number of undecideds, Timken also maintains that she can pull out a late win thanks to her sprawling ground game. 

The winner of the GOP primary will likely face Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, in the general election in November. 

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