Ohio Secretary of State and U.S. Senate Republican candidate Frank LaRose has recently portrayed himself as a stalwart conservative, but for years, he had previously described himself as a “pragmatic moderate” and an “independent.”
“Frank LaRose is a proven, battle-tested, conservative leader for Ohio,” LaRose’s campaign website reads.
However, a 2013 article in the Canton Repository in Ohio reported that “LaRose has worked to establish a reputation as a ‘pragmatic moderate’ and centrist Republican.”
“Amid a hyperpartisan political culture, LaRose, in interviews, generally avoided attacking Democrats,” the Repository’s Robert Wang wrote at the time.
“Some people think moderate is a dirty word. … Northeastern Ohio isn’t far left or far right. I’m proud to be a Republican, but that doesn’t mean I take orders from the party,” LaRose said in a 2013 interview.
“I believe that compromise is the essential skill of statesmanship, but for some reason, folks have this notion that if you compromise, you’re a sellout,” LaRose said in another 2013 interview.
The question of whether he is conservative or “moderate” is not the only matter in which LaRose has reinvented himself as he seeks the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Ohio. As Breitbart News previously reported, LaRose also had once publicly declared himself to be a leader of the #NeverTrump movement but has now rebranded himself as a self-styled backer of former President Donald Trump. Similar to that issue, on this question — whether he is actually conservative or whether he is a “moderate” — there is a long trail of evidence of LaRose presenting himself one way to voters and Ohioans for many years before abruptly shifting as he runs for the U.S. Senate.
LaRose said that working with his Democrat colleagues improved legislation in another interview in 2016, for which there is publicly available video:
It wasn’t a matter of weakening my bill, and actually working with the Democrats made my bill better, but before getting to know each other, that wouldn’t have crossed my mind. It would have just been, “I’m going to get my bill done, hoorah, get it signed by the governor, made a lot, that’s great,” but haven’t yet gotten to know some of my Democratic colleagues, and just hearing what their concerns were, we were able to modify the bill and make it a better bill for Ohio.
“Most Ohioans are not far right or far left. Most Ohioans are somewhere more in the middle of that spectrum, and I think that there’s a need for a voice of moderation within both parties to sort of drag it back from the fringes,” LaRose said in 2018.
The Columbus Dispatch wrote:
Along the way, LaRose has aligned himself with colleagues interested in working across the aisle to solve problems. In 2015, he and a handful of other 30-something fans of bipartisanship in the House and Senate formed the “Ohio Future Caucus” with the idea of rejecting the hidebound partisanship that makes our Statehouse so dysfunctional.
Although LaRose has labeled himself a conservative during his campaign, he has voted against conservatives during his tenure as a state senator.
- LaRose opposed a 2014 bill that would have prevented municipalities from issuing tickets for speeding or running a red light unless an officer was present. The American Conservative Union (ACU) supported the bill.
- LaRose opposed a bill that would have prohibited health plans offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, from covering abortions. Despite his vote with Democrats on the bill, the bill passed through the Ohio Senate.
LaRose and Ohio State Sen. Matt Dolan have also reportedly backed other policies, particularly on immigration, that many would consider anti-conservative.
Bernie Moreno, a businessman also running against LaRose and Dolan in the 2024 Ohio GOP U.S. Senate primary, said on Breitbart News Saturday that LaRose and Dolan are “full-blown amnesty supporters.”
During a recent candidate forum, LaRose said, “It’s not realistic to take 20 million consumers out of the economy. Immigration, when done legally, is a net positive for our country.”
Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.