Three Conclusions from Recent Ohio Campaign Finance Filings

Primary Elections for statewide offices in Ohio are won by two things: connection with ideological voters likely to vote in low turnout off year Primary Elections and money. It is too early to determine where the ideological Democrats and Republicans will align between the candidates but recent campaign finance reports submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office indicate who is winning the money battle.

Monday, July 31, 2017 marked the filing deadline for semiannual reports illustrating fundraising activity since the state of the year. The semiannual reports, required to be filed for non-judicial candidates who did not file post-primary numbers in January, give the latest look at the candidates’ war chests with 10 months to go until the 2018 primaries. Three conclusions can be drawn from the recent Ohio campaign finance filings for those seeking a statewide office.

  1. Republicans seeking Ohio statewide offices hold a substantial lead over potential Democrat opponents. As the table above illustrates, Republicans while not holding any of the offices they are seeking hold a substantial fundraising lead against their Democratic counterparts. Three of the four Republicans seeking the Governor’s office have over $4M in bank while the leading Democrat seeking the office has just over $700,000. Now two of the leading Governor’s candidates are statewide elected officials themselves but the early money lead is substantial for Republican candidates seeking the Governor’s office as well as Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer and Attorney General. As an example, former Ohio Senate President and current State Representative Keith Faber has a 7 to 1 lead in fundraiser of over Democratic challenger, former Congressman Zach Space. State Auditor and Republican Attorney General candidate Dave Yost has a 2 to 1 fundraising lead over his Democratic opponent.
  2. Republican Primary Fundraising Leaders are Dewine, Husted, Renacci, LaRose and Sprague. Early results illustrate the strength of Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Both Husted and Dewine have over $4M in the bank with Dewine raising the most funds at $4.6 M cash on hand. Congressman Jim Renacci has raised a low amount of money but loaned himself $4M just in time for the campaign finance filing so he has a similar amount in the bank. Dewine, like Congressman Renacci, has the ability to self-finance what is likely going to be a Governor’s race costing well over $20M. Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor is far behind the Husted and Dewine fundraising race with only $436,883. State Senator Frank LaRose is leading his Republican and fellow Ohio Secretary of State candidate State Representative Dorothy Pelanda by a 5 to 1 fundraising margin. Also, State Representative Robert Sprague of Findlay is leading his primary opponent Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo in fundraising and cash on hand by a 3 to 1 margin.
  3. Democratic Front Runner Betty Sutton Trailing in Fundraising. On paper, former Congresswoman Betty Sutton appears to be the most experienced candidate the Democrats have for their declared four candidates for Governor. However, Sutton is not leading the fundraising battle. Former Cincinnati area State Representative Connie Pillich is leading among the announced Democratic candidates for Governor with $720,525 in the bank. Sutton is behind not only Connie Pillich but also Democrats Senator Joe Schiavoni, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley who are also seeking the Governor’s job. Democratic Governor’s candidates fundraising efforts could be harmed by the questions about whether any of the current candidates will actually be the Democratic standard bearer. Former Ohio Attorney General and current Director Consumer Financial Protection in Washington DC Richard Cordray remains a focus for Democrats to return home and run for Governor. Even Cincinnati’s own Jerry Springer is rumored to be considering a run.

Mid-year campaign finance reports 10 months away from a Primary Election do not tell the tale of the Primary Election results but they do begin to create opportunities and obstacles for the winners and losers in the battle for fundraising dollars.

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