Incumbents hold big funding edge in Ohio’s congressional races

Those holding office have six times as much money as their challengers.


A Democrat who was president of an international relief organization and a Republican former NFL wide receiver are leading all other challengers in fundraising as they work to win seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

Ken Harbaugh, a Democrat who wants to unseat Rep. Bob Gibbs of Lakeville, raised $272,058 between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 of last year, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission this week.

Anthony Gonzalez, who starred at Ohio State University before playing wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts, raised $259,467 in his bid to win the northeast Ohio congressional seat currently held by U.S. Senate candidate Jim Renacci.

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Renacci’s departure creates an open seat in the largely Republican district, which should be highly competitive in the May primary. Gonzalez’s closest competition in fundraising is state Rep. Christina Hagan, R–Marlboro Twp., who raised $130,184 last quarter and had $199,046 in the bank. Gonzalez had $742,425 in the bank, according to the reports filed with the FEC.

Incumbents in most races around Ohio hold a huge fundraising edge. Gibbs is a good example. A Republican who represents a swath of eastern Ohio, Gibbs raised $85,964 last quarter. Although Harbaugh outraised him in the quarter, he lags the incumbent in cash on hand with $433,193 compared to $1.29 million for Gibbs.

In all, incumbents raised $2.3 million and had $12.5 million to spend as of the end of last year. That figure does not include Renacci or Rep. Pat Tiberi, who left Congress to take a job at the Ohio Business Roundtable in January.

By comparison, challengers or those running for open seats raised a total of $1.1 million last quarter and had nearly $1.89 million to spend.

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Locally, Citizens for Turner, the campaign committee for Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, reported $139,705 in donations last quarter and $584,142 to date this cycle. Turner had $540,322 to spend as of Dec. 31. Democrat Teresa Gasper, who declared her candidacy in January, has not had to file a campaign report as of yet. Democrat Michael Milisits does not appear to have raised or spent the $5,000 necessary to necessitate a campaign finance report.

In Ohio’s 8th congressional district, Rep. Warren Davidson raised $102,135 last quarter, has $230,453 in the bank and $250,000 in debt, presumably from his first campaign for Congress. Two Democrats and one Republican have registered with the FEC, but because all three either filed in late December or early January, they have yet to raise or spend enough to have to file a report.

In the Cincinnati-area 1st Congressional District, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati raised $103,317 last quarter and has $1.19 million in the bank. Democrat Laura Weaver has $6,384 in the bank and Republican Sam Ronan has $705, according to the FEC reports. Democrat Robert Barr has yet to file a report in the race.

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For now, Republican Jim Jordan of Urbana is unopposed in his heavily Republican district after Democrat Andrew Mackey filed termination papers to end his campaign in October. Jordan has $1.4 million in the bank.

The most recent campaign reports don’t reflect any activity past Jan. 1, which is when many candidates for Central Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, previously held by Tiberi, declared their candidacy. Some 17 people have filed paperwork with the FEC indicating that they intend to run for the seat. Republican or Democratic candidates have until Feb. 7 to declare their candidacy.

The campaign finance filings also might not yet include those who filed their paper work via U.S. mail; while most candidates prefer to file online, some have stuck to the traditional method of mailing in their paperwork.



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