Former President Donald Trump ruled out endorsing Ohio Republican lawmaker Matt Dolan in the Buckeye State’s crowded US Senate primary Monday, citing the Cleveland Indians’ decision to change their name to the Cleveland Guardians beginning next season.
Dolan, who has served in the Ohio State Senate since 2017, is the son of Indians principal owner Larry Dolan and a cousin of Madison Square Garden chairman and CEO James Dolan. The team announced in July that it would change its nickname from Indians, which had been in use since 1915, to Guardians in honor of statues that grace a bridge near Progressive Field and are known as the “Guardians of Traffic.”
“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,” Trump said in an emailed statement. “The Atlanta Braves didn’t change their name, and the Florida State Seminoles didn’t change their chant, but Cleveland has, and they were there first.
“Despite this,” Trump added, “a man named Matt Dolan, the son of the owner of the team, said he is against Cancel Culture. Do those two things really work together? In any event, I know of at least one person in the race who I won’t be endorsing. The Republican Party has too many RINOs!”
Matt Dolan — who has a partial ownership stake in the club, but no formal role in the front office — criticized the decision to change the team’s nickname in December of last year, calling it an unfortunate consequence of the “culture wars.”
Trump himself blasted the name change, calling it a “disgrace” and adding that “I guarantee that the people who are most angry about it are the many Indians of our Country”.
Dolan’s brother Paul is the Indians’ chairman and CEO. In a letter to fans following the announcement that the team would adopt the nickname Guardians, Paul Dolan wrote that “the name change will be difficult for many of us, and the transition will take time. It is our hope and belief this change will divert us from a divisive path, and instead steer us towards a future where our fans, city, and region are all united as Cleveland Guardians.”
Matt Dolan announced he would enter the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman earlier Monday, tweeting: “The race for #OHSEN has lacked a focus on Ohio: our people, our values and interests. This changes today.”
“After meeting with Republicans, conservative activists and community leaders across Ohio in recent weeks, it’s clear that the focus of the race for U.S. Senate has yet to be about our people, our interests, and our beloved state,” Dolan said in his announcement, promising to change that.
Dolan joins a crowded Republican field that includes former state Republican chair Jane Timken, former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, author and venture capitalist JD Vance and Cleveland businessmen Mike Gibbons and Bernie Moreno. So far, the race has been marked by open jockeying for Trump’s endorsement.
Early polling of the primary race shows Mandel with a large lead over his competitors, though a high percentage of voters are undecided.
On the Democratic side, US Rep. Tim Ryan is favored to come through the primary and challenge for the seat, which was last won by a Democrat in 1992. On that occasion, former astronaut John Glenn narrowly won a fourth term by defeating Republican Lt. Gov. Mike DeWine. DeWine successfully ran for Senate two years later and served two terms before going on to become the state’s attorney general and its current governor.
“Add Matt Dolan to the long list of out-of-touch millionaires vying for the GOP Senate nomination,” Ohio Democratic Party spokesperson Michael Beyer said in a statement. “With this latest addition to the GOP clown show, this primary is sure to get nastier, more divisive and more expensive all while Ohio voters and their interests get left behind.”
In addition to his work in the Ohio Senate, Dolan is a partner in a Cleveland law firm, vice president of a business and real estate management firm, adjunct law professor and former assistant county prosecutor and assistant Ohio attorney general.
With Post wires