Republican Gov. John Kasich set a new record Friday when he reported he has $7.9 million on hand for his 2014 re-election bid – more cash than any Ohio governor has ever had at this point in the campaign.
Kasich’s war chest easily beats the previous record of $6.17 million set by former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland four years ago.
“It’s easy for an incumbent governor to raise money and it’s even easier for a Republican governor to raise money. They have more ties to the corporate world,” said Ohio State University political scientist Paul Beck. “Democrats have ties to labor unions but labor unions have less money than they used to.”
Kasich raised $4.48 million in the second half of 2013 with two-thirds of that coming from the 551 contributors who gave $2,000 or more. He pulled in just over $1 million from out-of-state donors. More than 4,500 donors gave less than $100 but those small contributions added up to just $147,860 of his total.
Meanwhile, Kasich’s likely Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald continues to lag behind in the fundraising numbers. FitzGerald, who is Cuyahoga County executive, reported raising $1.62 million in the second half of 2013 with 30 percent of that coming from the Ohio Democratic Party late in the reporting period.
Just over $1 million of FitzGerald’s cash came from 127 donors giving $2,000 or more while 3,321 contributors giving less than $100 compromised $95,399 in the total haul.
FitzGerald’s report includes money raised in January 2014; Kasich’s does not.
Beck said FitzGerald got off to a poor start when his first choice as a running mate, state Sen. Eric Kearney, dropped off the ticket due to tax problems and he didn’t name his new lieutenant governor running mate until mid-January when he picked Yellow Springs attorney Sharen Neuhardt.
FitzGerald will need a strong fundraising run in the next six months to cross the threshold of enough money to get his message out, Beck said.
Governor’s races are costly. In 2006, Strickland and Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell spent a combined $28 million. In 2010, Strickland and Kasich spent a combined $30.4 million.
Other state races
Attorney General: Democratic challenger David Pepper of Cincinnati pulled in $863,073 during the reporting period compared with $859,097 raised by incumbent Republican Mike DeWine of Cedarville. But DeWine has $1.8 million on hand compared with Pepper’s $764,017. DeWine’s campaign still owes $300,000 on a $2 million personal loan DeWine made to the campaign committee during the 2010 race.
Auditor: State Rep. John Patrick Carney, D-Columbus, raised $316,912 for the period and has $463,999 cash on hand. Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Dave Yost of Delaware raised $329,379 for the period and has $776,285 cash on hand. For the year, Carney is the only Democrat on the statewide ticket to out-raise his incumbent opponent. Carney raised $633,000 to Yost’s $551,000.
Secretary of State: Incumbent Republican Jon Husted of suburban Columbus raised $580,235 and has $2.1 million on hand to go up against Democratic challenger Nina Turner, a state senator from Cleveland. Turner raised $407,629 and has $298,626 in the bank for the race.
Treasurer: Incumbent Republican Josh Mandel is sitting on $2 million in campaign cash having pulled in $1.15 million in the reporting period. State Rep. Connie Pillich, D-Cincinnati, raised $634,131 and has $801,078 in cash on hand.
Legislature: Republicans in the General Assembly are far outpacing the Democrats when it comes to raising money for their political caucuses, which in turn back legislative candidates across the state.
In the second half of 2013, the Senate Republican campaign fund raised $2.17 million compared with just $66,258 raised by the Senate Democratic campaign fund. In the House, the Republican caucus campaign raised $2.64 million compared with $207,770 raised by the Democratic caucus campaign fund.
2014 Election coverage
Our local reporters and Columbus and Washington bureaus will have complete coverage of the 2014 elections all year. Ohioans will decide races for governor and statewide offices and may also face several statewide ballot issues this year. Follow us on Twitter at @Ohio_Politics.