Politics & Policy

Fundraising Fight in Gubernatorial Race Heating Up

For a race that has economic populism as one of its primary themes, the gubernatorial race in Ohio is getting awfully extravagant:

Ohio’s gubernatorial candidates have plenty of money to slug it out on the airwaves this fall. Gov. Ted Strickland can thank the state Democratic Party, which picked up his fund-raising slack in the last six weeks, contributing $700,000 of the $2 million he raised from June 11 through Aug. 4, the latest reporting period. His finance report showed $9.7 million on hand.

Republican challenger John Kasich raised nearly $2.3 million, thanks largely to individual donors who contributed on average just under $400 to his campaign. Kasich reported $7.9 million on hand.

Candidates are not required to report expenses until Oct. 21 so it’s hard to gauge how much cash is really available. But Strickland and Kasich have collectively raised more than $24 million, which will likely make this the most expensive gubernatorial race in Ohio history.

It’s interesting to note that Strickland has his money because of backing from the state party, whereas Kasich is getting most of his from small individual donors. That’s going to put the Democratic line about him being Wall Street’s pet in jeopardy. And while we’re on the subject, Strickland has some pretty big donors himself:

In addition to the donations from the state party, Strickland received $25,000 from the Summit County party and more than $50,000 from unions. Asked about the large donations, campaign spokeswoman Allison Kolodziej said: “It shows we have a strong state party this year.”

Kasich, meanwhile, only has about 30 big investors:

Kasich received the maximum donation of $11,395 from 30 individuals. Kasich crowed about his number of contributors compared to Strickland’s, arguing it reflects stronger grass-roots support, “the lifeblood of any campaign,” spokesman Rob Nichols said.

Personally, I don’t see how the Dems argue that getting $11,000 from 30 people is evidence of a vast Wall Street conspiracy, whereas getting $50,000 from unions is evidence of nothing, but then again, I’m not a Democratic strategist. Kasich had just better hope none of those big donors came from Lehman Brothers or Goldman Sachs.