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LaRose calls on his GOP U.S. Senate opponents to pony up $1 million for pro-Issue 1 campaign

 A sign for Issue 1 in Columbus.
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
A sign for Issue 1 in Columbus.

Tuesday’s controversial effort to make it harder to amend Ohio‘s constitution is coming into next year’s Republican U.S. Senate primary.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose is asking his multi-millionaire opponents in that GOP primary to contribute $1 million each to help fund the campaign to pass Issue 1. That’s the only question on the Aug. 8 special election ballot, which seeks to raise the threshold for voter approval for future constitutional amendments to 60%, including a reproductive rights and abortion access amendment on the November ballot.

LaRose asked Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) and Cleveland-area businessman Bernie Moreno to each put $1 million into the pro-Issue 1 campaign to help pay for last minute advertising ahead of the Aug. 8 vote. Both are wealthy; Dolan's family owns the Cleveland Guardians and Moreno is a northeast Ohio luxury car dealer.

Ben Kindel, campaign spokesman for LaRose, said Moreno and Dolan can afford the request.

“Somebody with five homes and a yacht could definitely contribute more money to this," Kindel said.

David DiStefano, campaign manager for Moreno, had a counter-proposal for LaRose.

"Bernie Moreno has quietly donated six figures of his own money to the effort, and will continue to rally support behind the cause. As of right now, we are unaware of any similar personal contribution from LaRose, but we are excited to announce that Bernie has agreed to match dollar-for-dollar any personal donation that Frank decides to give. Talk is cheap," DiStefano said.

When asked about the match Moreno proposed, Kindel said that’s fine, but LaRose doesn't have the money Moreno or Dolan has.

“Frank, like most Ohioans, is not personally wealthy so he’s putting in that time and effort and sweat equity into this," Kindel said.

Kindel said LaRose wants the three GOP Senate candidates to come together on this because LaRose feels passage of Issue 1 is important to Ohioans.

“Frank LaRose has, from the start, taken leadership of this issue, going back to last year. And he has put in the sweat equity. He’s done over 60 events across the state,” Kindel said, noting LaRose’s appearances in televised debates and at Republican dinners and forums. “Frank LaRose is really putting in that grass roots support.”

DiStefano pushed back on that.

"What Ohio needs is a Secretary of State that is paying attention to the job to which he was elected. Instead, ours is trying to divide Republicans at the last minute. He's also spent more time shooting fake jogging ads and fundraising in Washington, D.C., to fuel his own political career,” DiStefano said, referring to LaRose’s campaign launch video. “So, we're curious: How many of LaRose's D.C. fundraisers were in support of Issue 1?”

Dolan's campaign did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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