Days earlier than the Might 3 main, Dolan seems to be experiencing a late burst of momentum. Whereas J.D. Vance — who acquired Trump’s endorsement final week — has surged into first place in accordance with the most recent Fox News poll, Dolan was the one different high contender to realize floor within the ballot since final month. A separate ballot released Tuesday by Blueprint Polling really positioned Dolan in first place with 18 p.c of the vote, adopted by Vance at 17 p.c.

No matter momentum Dolan is driving, it was sufficient to immediate Trump to launch an announcement Tuesday suggesting that the state senator is “not match” to serve within the Senate.

“I feel there’s mounting proof that he’s in a state of affairs the place he’s working up the center, unmolested, with a singular message and a few issues in his favor,” stated Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist who lives out of state however donated $250 to Dolan’s marketing campaign in October. “Does it imply he has a lock on the race? No approach. But it surely’s a aggressive race, and he’s in it. He’s acquired the momentum, as of final week.”

Dolan possible has a low ceiling of help, given his dependence on Republican voters who’re keen to maneuver on from Trump — a minority of the occasion. However in a splintered area of candidates, that could possibly be sufficient.

“Once I made my choice to get into the race, I knew that it was going to be a tricky slog, at the very least publicly, for some time,” Dolan stated in an interview. “I knew that I might not be doing nicely within the polls till a lot, a lot later within the marketing campaign. I feel it’s enjoying out as I assumed it was going to play out.”

Inside Dolan polling reveals him “monitoring to second place,” in accordance with an individual aware of the info who stated the marketing campaign has a “glide path to getting a plurality of the vote.”

Broadly considered as a longshot, Dolan has prevented any actual assaults from his opponents, who took turns going after each other for months in a cutthroat main that has generated almost $70 million in advert spending. The Membership for Development — a brilliant PAC supporting former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who has led in polls all through many of the main — took out adverts concentrating on Vance, Jane Timken and Mike Gibbons as every noticed positive factors in help in latest months.

However they and different campaigns and out of doors curiosity teams by no means focused Dolan, who has spent closely on tv adverts along with his personal constructive message since January.

Dolan is the lone candidate who refuses to toe the Trump line. He has accused the previous president of “perpetuat[ing] lies concerning the consequence” of the 2020 election. He known as the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol a “failure of management” by Trump and an “assault on democracy.” At a March 21 debate, Dolan was the one candidate to lift his hand when the moderator requested who believed it was time for Trump to cease speaking concerning the 2020 election.

But Dolan has been cautious to spotlight that he considers himself a Trump supporter. All through the marketing campaign, Dolan’s employees has been “dogged” about in search of corrections to any information reviews that referred to Dolan as anti-Trump or a By no means Trumper, in accordance with an individual engaged on the marketing campaign. They’d clarify to reporters that Dolan had twice voted for Trump — not like Vance — and that Dolan has stated he would achieve this once more if Trump had been the nominee. Dolan has additionally stated that he wouldn’t have voted to convict Trump in an impeachment trial.

Although Dolan’s marketing campaign was as soon as dismissed as a conceit mission, Trump has lengthy paid attention to a possible rise by the candidate. On Tuesday, he attacked Dolan not as an opponent of his America First agenda, however as a result of the Main League Baseball crew Dolan and his household personal, the Cleveland Guardians, modified its title from the Indians after the 2021 season.

“Anyone who adjustments the title of the ‘storied’ Cleveland Indians (from 1916), an unique baseball franchise, to the Cleveland Guardians, just isn’t match to serve in the US Senate,” Trump wrote. “Such is the case for Matt Dolan, who I don’t know, have by no means met, and could also be a really good man, however the crew will at all times stay the Cleveland Indians to me!”

An individual near Trump insisted there was no specific purpose the previous president launched the Dolan assertion Tuesday, and that it was unrelated to polling information circulating on Twitter that day putting Dolan within the lead or in second place. The individual famous that the message was one thing Trump “has been saying for months” — at the very least since Dolan entered the race in September — and that Trump simply wished to “remind individuals” concerning the Dolans’ position within the crew title change.

All through the marketing campaign, Dolan has stated he was not a part of the choice to vary the title, however helps his household.

Whereas his marketing campaign occasions this week haven’t drawn high-profile supporters — reminiscent of Trump, who held a rally Saturday to help Vance, or Donald Trump Jr., who has visited the state twice in latest days to stump with Vance — Dolan has earned endorsements from three newspaper editorial boards and dozens of municipal workplace holders across the state. Native surrogates have additionally engaged in an aggressive letters-to-the-editor marketing campaign on his behalf.

Mandel, in the meantime, has stored a low profile after touring to marketing campaign stops final week with Michael Flynn, Trump’s former nationwide safety adviser and a number one advocate for efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. This weekend, Mandel will seem at occasions with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Dolan’s marketing campaign is nicely conscious that Trump’s approval score amongst Republican voters within the state is as excessive as 85 p.c. Its strategy has been to string the needle between help for Trump’s agenda — Dolan joined different candidates within the main in working an advert about closing the southern border — and his unapologetic denunciations of Trump’s baseless election fraud campaign.

“What we sought to do from the outset was illustrate to people that this race must be about Ohio,” stated Chris Maloney, Dolan’s marketing campaign advisor. “You will be for pro-Trump insurance policies and never share his character, and that’s what’s taking maintain amongst Ohio Republicans.”

In distinction with Dolan, whose giant funding within the race for months appeared futile as he failed to realize important traction, Gibbons, a rich enterprise proprietor, has taken a dive after peaking earlier this 12 months and loaning his marketing campaign greater than $16 million.

Murphy, the Republican strategist, famous a number of elements are serving to Dolan now. Along with rising unscathed after the opposite candidates spent months hurling insults at one another, Dolan suits the mildew of pragmatic conservatives whom Ohio Republicans have historically chosen for Senate, together with retiring Sen. Rob Portman, former Sen. and Gov. George Voinovich and present Gov. Mike DeWine.

“He’s not an alien species in any respect to the traditional consolation zone of the Ohio Republican Celebration,” Murphy stated.

Dolan and Timken have had marketing campaign employees out on foot for greater than two months, permitting them to have a longtime floor marketing campaign. However Timken has been darkish on broadcast tv and cable for weeks in a number of markets, and has been fully off broadcast statewide the previous week, working solely $15,000 price of cable adverts. An excellent PAC supporting her, Profitable for Ladies, now has solely a small variety of cable spots working.

Dolan’s marketing campaign and the Membership for Development are main in tv adverts proper now, adopted by the pro-Vance tremendous PAC Defend Ohio Values, an outdoor expenditure group that has acquired $13.5 million in donations from billionaire tech government Peter Thiel.

At a latest debate, Dolan was requested whether or not he may win the Republican nomination with out Trump’s help.

“In fact I can win,” Dolan stated, pivoting to his file within the Ohio Legislature. “The irony of this entire factor is I’m the one one who has applied Republican Trump concepts.”