Politics & Policy

Dismal Campaign Fundraising for Democrat Fisher Means Open Senate Seat ‘Leans Republican’

A recent post at the Dayton Daily News suggests the Democrats’ Senate hopeful Lee Fisher might be encountering enough money problems to be noncompetitive. Highlights:

Democrat Dale Butland, a veteran operative of five Ohio U.S. Senate campaigns in Ohio, really wants to see Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher win this year’s race against Republican Rob Portman.

But Butland is worried. “I like Lee and I think we need a Democrat in the office but unless something changes pretty quick, it’s not going to happen,” Butland said last week.

Not all Ohio Democrats are as discouraged as Butland, at least publicly. But as Fisher campaigns across the state he is battling not just Portman but the perception that the campaign is getting away from him with the Sept. 28 start of early voting little more than a month away.

Here are some reasons for the gloomy assessment:

— Portman had a 7-1 advantage in cash on hand, about $8.9 million to about $1.3 million for Fisher as of June 30. And Portman isn’t the only deep-pocket opponent in the race. Last week a conservative non-profit, American Crossroads, dropped $500,000 on a pro-Portman TV ad airing in Dayton and other major markets. Fisher appears to be slumping in the polls. […]

As director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, [political scientist Larry] Sabato operates the “Crystal Ball,” that predicts races across the country.

In May the Crystal Ball rated the Ohio Senate race a toss-up. Sabato is now changing it to “lean Republican.”

“Fisher has run a lackadaisical campaign and is poorly funded,” Sabato said in an e-mail.

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