The Corner

Eyes on Ohio’s Congressional Races

If you are going to pay attention to one congressional race in Ohio, it should be Ohio’s 16th.

Ohio lost two congressional seats as a result of the last census and redistricting. In one district, the redrawn map put Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptor against one another in the primary, where Kaptor won. The other district puts incumbent Republican Jim Renacci against incumbent Democrat Betty Sutton this November. This is one of only two races in the country with two sitting members of Congress running against one another, and it is the most closely watched vongressional race in Ohio.

Yesterday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Renacci will not run broadcast TV ads for the next two weeks and will instead focus on cable, in a tone that leaves one suspecting that the Republican Renacci is in trouble and giving up the race.

I reached out to campaign spokesman James Slepian to get a more complete story:

The Plain Dealer reported that we “canceled” our ad buys for the final 2 weeks.  We never canceled any buy at all because we never purchased time for the final 2 weeks. We decided back in August that to run a successful campaign we needed to communicate to voters before the clutter over saturated broadcast TV, which is why we spent heavily on broadcast and cable starting in August and ran it until today. We will run cable through the end, but decided back in August that broadcast buys were far more effective earlier on.

The spin that the DCCC is trying to put on this is that we “canceled” an ad buy (a buy we never actually made in the first place) because we are in some sort of trouble. In reality, it’s Betty Sutton who made a major misstep by not running a single ad until mid October — after early voting had already begun. We realized we had to go up early and stick to positive ads, we had the resources to do it, and the polling numbers show we were correct in taking that path.

Renacci will likely out raise Sutton by over $1 million, and Renacci will likely put twice as much money into television as Sutton. There is no real story here, and contrary to the Plain Dealer’s wishes, this race is far from over.

There are urban and rural areas to the district, making it similar to Ohio’s wider “swing state” demographics. And there are parallels to the race for the presidency. Sutton’s ads are largely attack ads on her opponent. Renacci is a conservative, successful businessman, and Sutton is a liberal, pro–Occupy Wall Street attorney. Sound familiar? They say that as Ohio goes, so goes the nation. I’ll be watching this race because there is a good shot that as the Renacci and Sutton race goes, so goes Ohio.


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