Ohio GOP Senate candidate touts key pro-2A group’s endorsement: ‘Only candidate’ voters ‘can trust’ on guns

by Tommy Grant

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, currently in the middle of a contentious Republican Senate primary race, is touting a key endorsement from a prominent pro-Second Amendment group in the state and making the case that he is the strongest candidate when it comes to gun rights.

I have stood up to fight for gun rights when it’s hard,” LaRose told Fox News Digital. “It’s easy to say you’re a pro-gun conservative on the campaign trail. Everybody’s going to say that. But when you’re actually standing up on the Senate floor to cast a vote and people in the gallery are yelling terrible things about you, and you still do the right thing, that demonstrates who you are.”

LaRose was recently endorsed in the race by the Buckeye Firearms Association, the largest grassroots pro-Second Amendment group in the state, and told Fox News Digital he believes his record on guns tops the other Republicans in the field, businessman Bernie Moreno and state Sen. Matt Dolan.

Four years ago, Mr. Moreno recorded a video mocking gun owners and saying, you know, ‘Who needed 100 bullets to shoot a deer?’ Which is a profound misunderstanding of what the Second Amendment is actually for. When he says that you should be able to classify guns like you rank, like you rate movies, kind of makes this bizarre comparison to pornography and says, guns should be rated PG, R and not R, He’s really mirroring some long-standing leftist talking points on gun control.” 

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LaRose was referring to a 2019 interview, that his campaign has posted on social media, comparing it to messaging from Democrats, where Moreno said he doesn’t believe in taking guns away but questioned why someone needs “100 bullets at time” and asked how “you are going to eat a deer that has 100 bullets in it?”

LaRose also questioned Moreno’s six-year tenure as a board member of a Cleveland Foundation that gave money to a Michael Bloomberg-linked anti-gun group, suggesting that Moreno should have resigned in protest when the foundation gave money to liberal causes. 

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I think he was showing us who he really is,” LaRose said. I think that a lot of the other groups recognize that that’s not genuine. That’s why folks like Buckeye Firearms are endorsing me and no one else for the race.

Moreno told Fox News Digital that he is a lifetime member of the NRA, received the highest rating a non-incumbent can receive from BFA, criticized LaRose for supporting No Labels in the past, and said it is “stupid” and “desperate” to imply that he was mocking gun owners in the 2019 interview, which he called an attempt to “fool” Ohio voters.

“The reality is I was born in Colombia, South America,” Moreno, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, said. “I understand exactly why we have a Second Amendment. That’s not confusing to me. It’s to protect from the tyranny of government and what we’ve seen over the last three years, especially with COVID, government overreach is exactly what happens when you have a population that’s not armed.” 

“From my point of view, I look at my wife, we have guns in the car, guns that we carry on ourselves because we get death threats and all kinds of lunatics. So a gun that has 100 bullets, I look at it as 100 chances for my wife to survive. So I completely understand it. Frank’s trying to take something that was said obviously in jest in a podcast years and years and years ago where I wasn’t in public office, I wasn’t somebody making public policy.”

LaRose also criticized Dolan for his previous support of a “red flag” law in the state.

“Dolan is well known as an anti-gun guy,” LaRose told Fox News Digital. “He literally sponsored the red flag law in Ohio. He wrote it and introduced it, I think twice, that would allow firearms confiscation. This was a bill that was so liberal that, of course, it didn’t go anywhere in our state legislature. But when it comes to gun rights, both of my opponents have shown themselves to be weak on this issue, and I’ve demonstrated the opposite.”

In a statement to Fox News Digital, Dolan campaign spokesperson Brad Miller defended Dolan’s record on gun rights. 

“Matt Dolan has a strong Second Amendment record, including supporting the Castle Doctrine, concealed carry, and constitutional carry,” Miller said. 

“Matt stands with law enforcement fighting to keep suicidal and homicidal individuals from purchasing a gun and enhancing straw purchase laws to keep guns out of criminal hands. Frank LaRose can explain to Ohioans why he thinks those individuals who want to harm fellow citizens should be able to purchase a gun.”

LaRose told Fox News Digital that gun rights are a key issue in the Buckeye State, where hunting, freedom and being self-sufficient are important to voters.

“We’re a state with people that don’t want to simply rely, although we support law enforcement and we’re all about protecting our men and women in blue, we want to be able to take care of protecting our families ourselves,” LaRose explained. “Because maybe sometimes, you live a long way from the police station, and if you are in jeopardy or your family’s in jeopardy, you believe in being able to protect yourself and these are all values that Ohioans hold dear, and it’s not just an urban or rural issue.”

Dolan talks with reporters

Polling in late January by Emerson College suggested all three candidates are essentially tied. Polling released by the Moreno campaign this week showed him holding a 10-point lead but also showed that 27% of voters are undecided with just a couple weeks left before the primary.

Ohioans will decide on Tuesday, March 19, which candidate will become the GOP nominee to square off against incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in a race the Cook Political Report rates as a “toss up” and which will have a significant impact on Republican attempts to take back control of the U.S. Senate.

LaRose told Fox News Digital that voters he speaks to are “fearful” that a Republican who isn’t strong on the Second Amendment will go up against Brown, who he says is in lockstep with Biden on an anti-gun agenda.

“This is why when I hold my campaign events around the state, I’ve got a lot of pro-gun people showing up because they know when it comes to this issue, there’s only one candidate they can really trust,” LaRose said.

“There are a lot of good Second Amendment advocates in Ohio who support our agenda,” Dean Rieck, executive director of Buckeye Firearms Association, told Fox News Digital. “However, Frank LaRose is a longtime partner who has always gone the extra mile to improve our laws and protect the rights of Ohio’s 4 million gun owners. He’ll be a great senator representing us in Washington, D.C.”

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