COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the most prominent Republican in the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown next year, has fired one of his top aides after social media posts surfaced in which the staffer criticized Donald Trump.
LaRose’s office confirmed press secretary Rob Nichols’s departure on Wednesday. A longtime Republican operative in the state, Nichols held a similar position with then-Republican Gov. John Kasich before he ran for president and became a vocal Trump detractor.
The abrupt dismissal followed Trump political allies on X, formerly Twitter, discovering and posting a cache of old tweets from Nichols’ personal account that took aim at the former president, including for his impeachments, indictments and appearance.
In one tweet, Nichols is quoted replying to a Trump supporter: “it’s been an incredible indictments race to the bottom for your guys and hunter biden…the daytona 500 of felonies and misdemeanors.”
His interim replacement, Mary Cianciolo, confirmed that Nichols no longer works for LaRose, but said she could not comment further on a personnel matter.
Reached by phone, Nichols declined comment on the matter. He had deleted the offending account before the tweets were brought to light.
The dismissal comes just a month after LaRose joined what is expected to be one of the most closely watched contests of 2024 and one where Trump’s endorsement could again prove crucial — as it did last year.
After holding out for months, Trump endorsed venture capitalist and memoirist JD Vance for the seat vacated by the GOP’s Rob Portman in 2022, helping Vance handily beat a crowded field to win the GOP primary and then the seat.
A previous critic of Trump himself, LaRose endorsed him for president in 2024 a week after entering the Senate race. That marked a reverse in position from 2020, when he said it was inappropriate to take political sides when you were running elections.
LaRose faces state Sen. Matt Dolan and Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno for the Republican Senate nomination. Dolan, whose family owns baseball’s Cleveland Guardians, has distanced himself from Trump, while Moreno — also a past critic — has seen Trump encourage his run.
Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press