Dealership owner Bernie Moreno is entering the race for one of Ohio’s seats in the U.S. Senate, the Cleveland-area businessman said Tuesday.
Moreno, 54, is vying for the GOP nomination to succeed Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican who announced in January that he will not seek reelection. Portman’s term expires in 2022.
“For me, it’s about being a public servant and doing things in a positive way for the people of Ohio,” Moreno told Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein during a recording of the “Daily Drive” podcast series.
Moreno owns a 50 percent interest in the Cleveland Motorsports dealership in North Olmsted, Ohio, which sells new Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce vehicles. He said he plans to purchase 100 percent of the interest this month.
He also owns a 60 percent interest in Infiniti of Coral Gables in Florida but is expecting his partner who operates the store to buy the majority stake this summer.
Moreno’s other ventures include Ownum, an incubator for blockchain-use ideas such as CHAMPtitles — which uses blockchain to create secure, digital vehicle titles — and Drive Options, a luxury-vehicle subscription service.
He said he wants to bring the perspective of entrepreneurs and businesspeople, including auto dealers, to Capitol Hill.
“Most dealers in the U.S. were politically active. Certainly, the franchise system makes it that way,” Moreno said. “I think all of us are independent, entrepreneurial businesspeople and, as a result, we tend to be interested in public policy.”
His campaign platform includes a commitment to not accept corporate PAC money, support for term limits and firm action toward China.
The balance of power in the Senate is split 50-50, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tiebreaking vote.
If elected, Moreno said he would be the only member of the U.S. Senate who is currently or formerly an auto dealer.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, five auto dealers won reelection last November including Mike Kelly, R-Pa., who owns Mike Kelly Automotive, which sells Cadillac, Chevrolet, Kia, Hyundai and Toyota vehicles; and Don Beyer, D-Va., who owns Beyer Auto Group, which sells Kia, Land Rover, Mazda, Subaru, Volkswagen and Volvo vehicles.