Roundup of Ohio Congressional Races

Following the break is a complete roundup and ranking of Ohio races for the U.S. House of Representatives. I have separated them into Republican-held and Democratic-held seats and divided each into tiers. Within each tier they are ranked in order of likelihood of changing parties.

Democrats were very successful in 2006 in winning a U.S. Senate seat, four out of five statewide offices, and a net gain of seven seats in the Ohio House of Representatives, but  the U.S. House races were a relative disappointment. The party gained only one seat and watched two promising races end in narrow losses after recounts. In this cycle Ohio has three open GOP seats and perhaps four or five races altogether that already look very promising, with another two or three that could be added to that list. The DCCC has already added three races to their “Red to Blue” program and is likely to take an interest in at least two more. In other words, Ohio is once again a critical congressional battleground.

Republican-Held Seats

Tier One: Toss-Up

15th District Central Ohio (includes part of Columbus and west and northwest suburbs, Hilliard, Marysville). Cook PVI R+1.1. Bush won 50% in 2004. In 2006 retiring incumbent Deborah Pryce (R) defeated Mary Jo Kilroy (D) by just over 1,000 votes. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 62.1% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) is running almost like an incumbent after her photo finish in 2006 and the retirement of her opponent. She has raised an impressive amount of money and has strong support from labor, womens’ groups (including Emily’s List) and among students, who are very numerous in this district. She is an energetic campaigner although not the most polished of public speakers. Opponent State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington), an Iraq veteran and former bank lobbyist, is a strong adversary with big support from the business community. Independent candidate Don Elijah Eckhart (I-Galloway) figures to take a few votes away from Stivers.

16th District NE Ohio (includes Canton, Massillon, Alliance, Wadsworth, Medina, Wooster, Ashland). Cook PVI R+3.6. Bush won 54% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Ralph Regula (R), who is retiring, fared poorly in the GOP primary (58% to 43% over conservative Matt Miller (R-Ashland)) and defeated political novice Rev. Tom Shaw (D-Wooster) by the surprisingly narrow margin of 59% to 41% in the general election. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 60.8% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

Iraq veteran and former collegiate baseball star State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) is a terrific candidate and is adored in his state legislative district. This congressional district unfortunately includes only a tiny slice of his home turf, but Boccieri is working very hard to build name recognition here and he has the energy and political talent to make it work. Opponent State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), a moderate, is strong in vote-rich Stark County but barely escaped a three-way primary against two more conservative opponents. The keys to this election are whether the Republican base turns out for Schuring and whether Boccieri can hold down Schuring’s advantage in blue-trending Stark County while gaining big vote totals elsewhere.

Tier Two: Leans Republican

1st District SW Ohio (includes part of Cincinnati and western suburbs). Cook PVI R+1. Bush won 50% of the vote in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Steve Chabot (R) defeated second-time challenger Councilman John Cranley (D) by 53% to 47%. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 55.4% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) defied pundits and polls by holding off a hard-charging challenger last cycle. State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) is thought to be a stronger opponent because his base is in the suburbs rather than the city, and like Cranley before him he has moderate-to-conservative positions on social issues that should have cross-over appeal in this swing district. Chabot was the target of independent attack ads over his votes against expanding SCHIP during the past year. Independent Rich Stevenson (I) is also in the race.

2nd District SW Ohio (includes part of Cincinnati and eastern suburbs, Lebanon, Portsmouth). Cook PVI R+13. Bush won 64% in 2004. Incumbent Jean Schmidt (R) defeated Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D) by less than 3,000 votes (51% to 49%) in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 57.2% Democratic.

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) has embarrassed herself on the floor of the House with her assault on Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) and by plagiarism in a constituent newsletter and exaggerating her credentials, but she is probably in a stronger position now than 2006 because she has completed a full term in office. Dr. Victoria Wells Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) emerged victorious from a bruising primary in which she endured withering (and unsubstantiated) attacks on her medical ethics. Wulsin takes heart from having outgained Schmidt in their respective primaries (54,965 to 40,891) and from having gained more Democratic votes and coming closer to winning in 2006 than any previous Democratic candidate since 1980. She is an experienced campaigner after two previous outings. Independent David Krikorian (I) is reportedly gathering signatures to join the race.

Tier Three: Likely Republican

14th District NE Ohio (includes northeast suburbs of Akron, Willoughby, Mentor, Ashtabula). Cook PVI R+2. Bush won 52% in 2004. Incumbent Steve LaTourette (R) defeated law professor Lew Katz (D) by 58% to 39% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 64.9% Democratic.

Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Chagrin Falls) has his toughest opponent since he defeated incumbent Eric Fingerhut (D) 14 years ago. Vietnam veteran and former appellate judge William O’Neill (D-South Russell) has good name recognition from his appellate judicial races and 2006 Ohio Supreme Court bid, has raised serious money (although he is still far behind LaTourette), and has a direct, plain-spoken personality (softened by his remarkable second career as a pediatric ER nurse) that should serve him well in this suburban-to-rural swing district. LaTourette’s biggest assets have been his ability to bring home federal dollars, which is blunted by being in the minority, and his reputation as a moderate, which is questionable. LaTourette is somewhat tainted by links to Jack Abramoff and Bob Ney, breaking a promise to vote against CAFTA, and his divorce and affair with a staffer whom he latter married. Unfortunately O’Neill underwent heart bypass surgery recently that will slow him down for another month or so, but he is a determined and formidable candidate who could elevate this to a top tier race.

Tier Four: High Probability Republican

7th District. South Central Ohio (includes southwest suburbs of Columbus, Lancaster, Xenia, Circleville, Springfield). Cook PVI R+6.0. Bush won 57% in 2004. Retiring incumbent Dave Hobson defeated repeat challenger Bill Conner (D) by 61% to 39% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 52.9% Democratic.

This race has upside potential because it is an open seat. Corporate attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) emerged from a six-way primary through hard work and a skillful direct mailing campaign. She is a first-time candidate but she has displayed excellent potential for fund-raising, has brought aboard first-rate campaign staff, and is dedicated to taking the necessary steps to run a seriously competitive campaign. I am hoping that she will work on displaying more passion in her public speaking, which on the occasion I heard her was somewhat low-key. State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) is photogenic and has the support of the incumbent but hasn’t particularly distinguished himself as a state legislator.

3rd District. SW Ohio (includes Dayton and southern suburbs, Kettering, Miamisburg). Cook PVI R+3. Bush won 54% in 2004. Incumbent Michael Turner (R) defeated former federal prosecutor Richard Chema (D) by 59% to 41% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 60.2% Democratic.

This should be a swing district based on the strong performance here by Gov. Ted Strickland in 2006. It was held by Democrat Tony Hall from 1981 to 2003. Unfortunately, incumbent Rep. Michael Turner (R-Centerville) benefits from having been Mayor of Dayton, where most of the Democratic votes are located. Nevertheless, business woman and long-time political activist Jane Mitakides (D) gave Turner a fairly stiff challenge in 2004 (gaining 37.7% of the vote) and figures to improve in her second campaign and with an electorate yearning for change. Questions have been raised about Turner’s ethics, including a no-bid contract that benefited his spouse, and this could give Mitakides something of an opening if she is willing to exploit it.

12th District Central Ohio (includes part of Columbus and northeast suburbs, Dublin, Delaware). Cook PVI R+0.7. Bush won 51% in 2004. Incumbent Pat Tiberi (R) defeated former Congressman Bob Shamansky (D) by 58% to 42% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 56.6% Democratic.

Businessman and political novice David W. Robinson (D) won a tough primary and is an intriguing candidate with possible crossover appeal. He has interesting credentials like a Ph.D. in theology and philosophy, a cross-country bicycle fund-raising trek for Alzheimers research, and working as a Presenter for Al Gore’s Climate Project initiative. If he had the benefit of political experience I’d move this race up to the next tier. [After some reflection I decdied that this race belongs in Tier Four because of the relatively even PVI and the challenger’s strong showing in a tough primary.] Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Westerville) is not a distinguished member of the House but held onto his seat in 2006 with nasty attack ads against his challenger.

Tier Five: Safe Republican

4th District West Central Ohio (includes Mansfield, Findlay, Marion, Lima, Bellefontaine, Sidney). Cook PVI R+14. Bush won 64% in 2004. Freshman Jim Jordan (R) defeated attorney Richard Siferd (D) by 60% to 40% in 2006.

Steelworker and labor union activist Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) deserves a lot of credit for taking on freshman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana), and this district has the second highest percentage of blue collar workers in Ohio, but it is the reddest district in the state and hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1936.

8th District. West Ohio includes northern Dayton suburbs, Troy, Hamilton, Fairfield). Cook PVI R+12. Bush won 64% in 2004. Incumbent (and House Speaker) John Boehner defeated political novice Morton Meier (D) by 64% to 36% in 2006.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester)  has enormous campaign resources. Political activist and USAF veteran Nick Von Stein (D-Mason) is a personable and promising young candidate but this hill looks too steep to climb.

5th District. North Central Ohio (includes Norwalk, Bucyrus, Tiffin, Defiance, Bowling Green, Fremont). Cook PVI R+10.1. Bush won 61% in 2004. Rep. Paul Gillmor (R), who defeated repeat challenger Robin Weirauch by 57% to 43% in 2006, died in September 2007 and State Rep. Bob Latta (R) defeated Weirauch by the same margin in a special election in December.

Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) is safe against tanning salon and karaoke entrepreneur George F. Mays (D-Norwalk), formerly a member of the fringe Reform Party.

Democratic-Held Seats

There are no open Democratic seats and at this point there aren’t any Democratic incumbents seriously at risk.

Tier One: Leans Democratic

18th District East Central Ohio (includes Chillicothe, Zanesville, Mt. Vernon, Newark and New Philadelphia). Cook PVI R+6.1. Bush won 57% in 2004. In 2006,  disgraced incumbent Bob Ney (R-Heath) resigned late in the campaign and Dover Law Director Zack Space (D) defeated replacement candidate State Sen. Joy Padgett (R-Coshocton) by 62% to 38%. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 72.5% Democratic.

Just about a year ago this was considered the NRCC’s number one target nationwide. Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) has greatly increased his chances of holding this seat by raising over a million dollars and engaging in a remarkable series of high-visibility events throughout this far-flung district. He gets great local press and does strong case work through three district offices. He has staked out relatively conservative (and infuriating)  positions on guns and immigration that help him with conservative voters and buttress his claim to be a political independent. His opponent, former Ohio Director of Agriculture Fred Dailey (R-Mt Vernon), is not a top-notch challenger. He got 39% of the vote in a four-way GOP primary, is not considered an exciting personality or hard-working campaigner, and has lingering problems with some farmers for giving environment-damaging factory farms a free pass while running the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The NRCC and 527’s will probably pour resources into this race to try to take Space out, but he nevertheless seems to be in fairly good shape.

Tier Two: High Probability Democratic

6th District. SE Ohio (includes Athens, Marietta, Steubenville, East Liverpool). Cook PVI D+0.4. Bush won 50% in 2004. In 2006 State Sen. Charlie Wilson (D) won the Democratic primary as a write-in candidate (he had filed defective nominating petitions) and cruised to an easy general election win over former Ohio House Speaker Charles Blasdel (R) by 62% to 38% to replace Gov. Ted Strickland in this Appalachian district. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 74.6% Democratic.

Popular Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) should prevail easily over Deputy County Recorder Richard Stobbs (R-Dillonvale) in a district that has trended strongly blue due to the popularity of Gov Strickland.

10th District. NE Ohio (includes part of Cleveland and southern and western suburbs). Cook PVI D+6. Kerry won 58% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Dennis Kucinich (D) defeated former U.S. government official Mike Dovilla (R) by 66% to 34%.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) would have had a serious primary challenge from rising political force Joe Cimperman (D) if there hadn’t been three other Democrats in the race, but he should be fine against former state representative Jim Trakas (R-Independence) and independent candidate Paul Visokaj (I). [After some reflection I decided that this race belongs in Tier Two because the challenger has campaign experience, the primary revealed significant (although not over powering) dissatisfaction with the incumbent, and the PVI is not as strong as in most of the safer districts.]

Tier Three: Safe Democratic

13th District. NE Ohio (includes part of Akron and eastern suburbs, Cuyahoga Falls, Lorain, Elyria, Brnswick, Strongsville). Cook PVI D+6. Kerry won 56% in 2004. In 2006 former state representative and labor attorney Betty Sutton (D) won a close Democratic primary and handily defeated Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin (R) by 61% to 39% in the general election to replace Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon).

The GOP took their best shot when this was an open seat last cycle and lost by a country mile. Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) isn’t at risk to political newcomer David S. Potter (R).

9th District North Central Ohio (includes Toledo, Sylvania, Sandusky). Cook PVI D+9. Kerry won 58% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Marcy Kaptur (D) defeated electrician Bradley Leavitt (R) by 74% to 26%.

No chance for Bradley Leavitt (R-Toledo) in his rematch against the Dean of the Ohio Congressional Delegation and labor favorite Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) in this heavily blue-collar district.

17th District NE Ohio (includes Youngstown, Niles, Warren, Kent). Cook PVI D+14. Kerry won 63% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Tim Ryan (D) defeated Don Manning (R) by 80% to 20%.

No worries for Pelosi protege and potential 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) over teacher Duane V. Grassell (R-Mogadore).

11th District NE Ohio (includes part of Cleveland and eastern suburbs). Cook PVI D+33. Kerry won 81.39% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Stephanie Tubbs Jones demolished car salesman Lindsey String by 83% to 17%.

No sweat for Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) over political unknown Thomas Pekarek (R) in Ohio’s bluest congressional district.

Cross-posted at Ohio Daily Blog

OH-05: Weirauch (D) Ahead of Latta (R) By Four Points!

In an amazing report tonight, The Politico quotes a GOP source as saying that a poll taken by the campaign of State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) last week showed him trailing Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) by four points.

On the ground in Ohio, we’ve been hearing that internal polls showed a close race, and there was an exciting rumor last week that Weirauch’s pollster said she was only down by three points. This race seemed like it was amazingly close for a R+10 district, but still a long shot. Now, with this leak about Latta’s poll, victory looks like a very real possibility tomorrow.

More after the flip.

The story in The Politico also reports that the campaign manager for State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) in the GOP primary, Jim Banks, concedes that “there’s an effect from a primary that’s been carried over” and “no one can deny it was a very nasty and physical election.” He also told The Politico that Weirauch “appeals more to the union and working-class voters – the people who are struggling the most and that want the most change,” and that the bread-and-butter issues on which Weirauch has focused “polled at the top of voter concerns during the primary.”

In contrast to Weirauch’s hard-hitting populist campaign, a GOP source reported to The Politico that Latta’s campaign “was unprepared to handle the race’s newfound attention” and the NRCC “had to dispose resources to respond effectively.” The Politico’s source called the Latta’s ground game “lackluster” and said “the NRCC has become the campaign by proxy.”

Robin Weirauch has busted her butt in this campaign and made great use of the resources and volunteers that she never had in her prior two bids for this seat. She has displayed tremendous message discipline, hammering the jobs and working-class values message over and over, along with her theme of “shaking up Washington.” I will be blogging from Weirauch headquarters in Bowling Green tomorrow, where the energy is reported to be sky high and the GOTV effort is cranking along at top speed. Check Ohio Daily Blog for updates.

OH-05: Wes Clark Promotes Weirauch (D); Momentum Building Fast

Former Democratic presidential contender Gen. Wesley Clark has a post up on his WesPAC blog, praising Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) and calling for donations for the special election that is now only twelve days away. Clark describes Weirauch as:

the daughter of a retired Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force, [who] will do more than simply repeat slogans like “Support the Troops.” She will fight to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq and make sure our veterans receive the health care they deserve.

This is just the latest of many signs I am seeing that the Weirauch campaign is really taking off (examples after the break).

* Weirauch has been endorsed by Emily’s List and a host of labor unions, which means that she has logistical and strategic support for a huge get-out-the-vote election in a contest that will be marked by very low turnout — she did not have Emily’s List’s support in her past races against deceased incumbent Paul Gillmor (R);

* The DNC is deploying internet-based GOTV support;

* Gov. Ted Strickland reportedly will campaign with Weirauch in the next few days, and Sen. Sherrod Brown did so a few days ago — these two political superstars each carried the 5th District in 2006;

* Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) hosted a big fund-raiser for Weirauch last night, and all the other Democratic members of Congress from Ohio are actively supporting her as well (I was at a fund-raiser two night ago featuring Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones(D-Cleveland));

* I just went to and Weirauch is second on the list of busiest recipients this week;

* Even hard-core Republican voters in the 5th District were extremely turned off by the bitterly negative GOP primary and many will either stay home or vote for change — I heard at the Weirauch fund-raiser two nights ago that the father of a well-known former GOP state legislator, himself an outspoken right-winger, is supporting Weirauch.

This is a race that will set the stage for 2008, and an upset victory is looking more and more possible. Please click here now and support the Weirauch campaign!

Cross-posted at Ohio Daily Blog

OH-15: Stivers (R) to Oppose Kilroy (D) for Pryce (R) Seat

As reported by Joe Hallett in the Columbus Dispatch and noted on Ohio 15th and Plunderbund this morning, State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) of the 16th Ohio Senate District has changed his mind and will jump into the contest to replace retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) in the 15th Ohio Congressional District. Stivers is an Iraq War vet and a state senator for five years. In short, he is a relatively high-profile adversary for Franklin County Commissioner and well-funded repeat candidate Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus).

More after the flip.

The fascinating thing about the announcement is that Stivers, a member of the incumbent’s party, is portraying it as a race about change. “I’ve decided to run for Congress because I think we really need change in Washington,” he says, and “the country is ready for change …and I represent that change.” He even goes so far as to portray Kilroy as “almost like” an incumbent in the race: “It will be a very different race than in 2006. The voters know her and they need to get to know me.”

On the face of it, that is a difficult argument. Although the Republicans lost control of the House last year, they still hold the White House and the nation is still reeling from the Bush Administration and its policies. Even more telling, the 15th District has been in Republican hands since 1967, when Chalmer Wylie (R) replaced Robert Seacrest (D). Change, indeed.

Stiver’s Ohio Senate district is almost entirely within the 15th Congressional District. Word is that State Rep. Jim Hughes (R) is the pick to run for Stiver’s Ohio Senate seat.

The 15th Congressional District is in central Ohio in Franklin, Madison, and Union counties. It includes part of Columbus and its northwestern suburbs, including Hilliard, Marysville, as well as rural countryside to the northwest. It is a swing district (Cook PVI R+1) and is thought to be tredning blue. Bush won 50% in 2004. Retiring incumbent Deborah Pryce (R) defeated Mary Jo Kilroy (D) by just over 1,000 votes (50% to 50%) in 2006.

OH-14: LaTourette (R) Gets Blogger Fired From Newspaper-Sponsored Group Blog

Today I was terminated from my engagement as a freelance blogger at the blog “Wide Open” as a direct result of intervention of Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) of the 14th Ohio Congressional District, in retaliation for my previous blogging about his re-election campaign and my financial support for two of his election opponents.

In August, the Cleveland Plain Dealer hired four Ohio political bloggers to contribute to a daily political group blog called “Wide Open“. In order to assure balance, two bloggers with liberal leanings were chosen, and two with conservative leanings. The other participants are Jill Miller Zimon of Writes Like She Talks, Tom Blumer of BizzyBlog, and Dave of Nixguy.

My participation in the project soon came to the attention of Rep. LaTourette. More after the flip.

I had written extensively about LaTourette’s 2006 re-election contest and I explicitly supported his challenger, law professor Lew Katz (D-Pepper Pike). I also wrote about what I regard as the suspicious connection between large amounts of campaign cash LaTourette received from the Ratner family of Cleveland, of the Forest City real estate empire, and their receiving an enormous contract to develop 44 acres of the Southeast Federal Center in Washington DC. LaTourette was a member of the powerful Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, which oversees the agency that awarded the contract (the General Services Administration). (That writing is here and was picked up here.) My wife and I also contributed a modest amount to the Katz campaign.

I was told by Cleveland Plain Dealer Online Editor Jean DuBail that Rep. LaTourette complained about my involvement in “Wide Open” to Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial Page Editor Brent Larkin. I was also informed that LaTourette brought the matter of my participation up during an interview with Cleveland Plain Dealer political reporter Sabrina Eaton, when she talked to LaTourette about the retirement of Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield). LaTourette mentioned that I had contributed the sum of $100 to the campaign of LaTourette’s current opponent, Bill O’Neill (D-South Russell). Eaton suggested that he raise his concerns with more senior people at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. As a result of the conversation, Eaton reported my contribution in her story about third quarter campaign fund-raising by various Ohio Congressional candidates.

Cleveland Plain Dealer Online Editor Jean DuBail raised the matter of LaTourette’s displeasure with my participation in “Wide Open” in discussion with the four bloggeres on at least two occasions. We discussed the possibility of my making a disclosure of my support for LaTourette’s opponents whenever I wrote anything about LaTourette.

Today Dubail called me and asked if I would agree to never write about LaTourette on “Wide Open,” as a condition of my continued participation. He said that the arrangement was sought by Susan Goldberg, Editor of the Plain Dealer. When I declined to agree that I would never write about LaTourette on “Wide Open,” I was terminated by DuBail.

As a political blogger, I am a partisan. My political orientation as a progressive Democrat is an integral part of what I do and is completely transparent to my readers. This is a crucial component of being a political blogger/activist, and sets us apart from journalists in the classic sense. It was understood among the four participants in “Wide Open” that we are political partisans and that we would engage in political debate from our respective political points of view.

I am extremely disappointed that the Cleveland Plain Dealer bowed to pressure from an elected official, to the extent of attempting to limit what a freelance political blogger could write on a hosted group blog and of terminating the services of the blogger to please the offical. To me, this sad episode strikes a heavy blow at freedom of expression and the purported journalistic independence of a once proud newspaper.

Of course, I am appalled at this petty exercise of political power by Rep. LaTourette to retaliate agianst even so insignificant an enemy as me. I do not believe that a Congressman who stoops to the level of manipulating a newspaper to strike back at a critic deserves to remain in office. Fortunately, LaTourette has a strong opponent in 2008 challenger Bill O’Neill.

OH-05: First Fund-Raising Reports for Special Election

The first reporting deadline for the special election to replace deceased Rep. Paul Gilmor (R) was yesterday, and the big story is that ideological extremist State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) has a large Club for Growth-generated cash advantage over the conservative but more pragmatic State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), whose father preceded Gillmor and who is leading in the GOP primary according to the limited polling data available. On the Democratic side, third-time candidate Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) is far back in fund-raising but has received a recent boost from unions, and she faces no serious primary opposition to deplete her war chest. The primary is set for regular general election day, November 6th.

Details after the flip. And visit Ohio Daily Blog for continuing coverage!

Buehrer reported total fund-raising after refunds of $256,017.00, less than the “more than $260,000” he had told the Toledo Blade to expect. Of that amount, $13,000 is from PACs and 60% of the rest is from individuals whose contributions are earmarked as relating to the Club for Growth, and almost all of them non-residents. Buehrer’s cash-on-hand is $188,217.97. His campaign has been buttressed by large independent TV buys by Club for Growth, attacking Latta as “tax happy” despite a generally anti-tax voting record.

Latta reported  $238,582 in total contributions, 90% of them Ohio residents, with $23,050 from PACs. Latta has spent more than Buehrer, leaving only $86,485.36 as cash-on-hand on his report. However, today’s Toledo Blade reports that Latta’s current cash on hand is actually $150,185, attributable in large part to loaning himself $50,000. Of course, Latta sees a positive message in the out-of-state/in-state contrast (quotes from the Blade story):

“Not only do [local Ohioans] contribute, but they’ve got relatives and friends within the district,” Mr. Latta said. “It’s a big advantage for the folks at home to support you.” …

“What connection do these [Club for Growth] people have to northwest Ohio?” Mr. Latta asked. “Do we want this group to be able to buy an election? I don’t think that’s what voters want.”

Republicans Mike Smitley (R-Van Wert), Mark Hollenbaugh (R-Bowling Green), and Fred Pieper (R-Paulding) did not raise enough money to require filing.

On the Democratic side, Weirauch reported taking in $40,354.89 in contributions, of which $4,750 is from Democratic party committees and $2,200 is from PACs. Over $19,000 is from individual contributions too small to require itemization. She reported $26,845.17 cash-on-hand, but the Blade reports that she received an additional $11,000 from unions after the filing deadline, so at the moment she has $37,845 on hand. “I’m very enthusiastic about our fund-raising and I’m confident we’ll have the resources we need,” Weirauch told the Blade. Wierauch’s primary opponent George Mays, who is self employed in the karaoke and disc jockey business, did not raise enough to require filing.

I’m (pleasantly) surprised by the news about union support for Weirauch, as I had heard that they were leery about supporting Wierauch strongly this time around after seeing her lose two prior attempts at the Congressional seat. If their attitude has changed, it has to be due to the nastiness of the GOP primary fight between Buehrer and Latta (extraordinarily negative for this staid, largely rural district), and perhaps the impressive ground-game effort displayed by the Weirauch camp, both tending to improve her prospects in the general election.

I’m sure that Weirauch would decline to answer the question of which GOP front-runner she’d rather face, but in my mind it would unquestionably be Buehrer, whose ideological extremism and out-of-state support would surely be negatives to moderate and independent voters in the general election (set for December 11th). With his larger war chest and more help from PACs like Club for Growth, Buehrer could conceivably make that come true, although Latta still seems to me the candidate to beat on the GOP side.