The race for campaign cash to fuel the 2018 statewide contests for governor, attorney general and other slots is well underway with Republican rivals socking away more than $5 million in money.
Although none have formally announced a bid for governor, three Republicans — Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor — all have their eye on the post.
Campaign finance reports filed Tuesday that show that Husted and DeWine each are holding $2.5 million in cash while Onward Ohio, a non-profit organization backing Taylor, reported a balance of $926,799.
While Taylor’s team is playing catch up, Onward Ohio set a blistering pace for December when the committee hauled in $865,000 from just five contributors: Bet-IX LLC in Alquippa, Penn., $250,000; Thomas George of The George Group in Westlake, $250,000; JW Didado Electric LLC in Akron, $250,000; Klein’s Restoration Services LLC in Hartville, $100,000; and Jerry James of Artex Oil Co. in Lowell, $15,000.
U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, has signaled he may be interested in the race as well.
DeWine and Husted’s committees are bound by $12,500 campaign contributions limits from individuals and political action committees.
On the Democratic side of the ledger it is anybody’s guess on who will emerge as the serious contenders for governor. Potential candidates include: former state lawmaker Connie Pillich, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Akron, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, former Youngstown mayor Jay Williams, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinch, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Youngstown and former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray.
Even Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, one of just two Democrats currently holding statewide office, told the Associated Press that he might step down to run for governor.
“Yeah, there are a lot of folks looking to run for governor and down ballot as well,” said Kirstin Alvanitakis, Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman.
Among the Democrats said to be considering a gubernatorial run, only Schiavoni and Pillich were required to file campaign finance reports on Tuesday. Schiavoni has $39,367 in his campaign account while Pillich, who made an unsuccessful bid for state treasurer in 2014, has $425,248.
In 2014, Democrats settled in with Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald as their candidate for governor. He looked good on paper — young, energetic, former FBI agent — but he faded quickly when problems came to light.
State Auditor Dave Yost, a Delaware County Republican, who reported nearly $1.1 million in his campaign account, announced that he is running for attorney general. State Rep. Keith Faber, R-Celina, who has $645,065 in campaign cash, told The Columbus Dispatch that he is running for state auditor.
Democrat Steve Dettelbach, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, seems poised to run for attorney general. He reported holding $221,128 in campaign cash.
WHO HAS THE MONEY?
Plenty of politicos are considering a run for governor in 2018. Here is a look at campaign finance reports filed Tuesday by possible contenders:
Mike DeWine, Republican, $2.5 million on hand
Jon Husted, Republican, $2.5 million on hand
Mary Taylor, Republican, $926,800 on hand
Connie Pillich, Democrat, $425,250 on hand
Joe Schiavoni, Democrat, $39,350 on hand
Sources: Federal Elections Commission, Ohio Secretary of State
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