COLUMBUS, Ohio — In the final weeks before the March 17 primary, Ohio Republicans are spending big supporting their preferred state legislative candidates in their contested races, according to new state campaign finance filings.
The House Republican Campaign Committee reported spending nearly $718,000 since Jan. 31. Major expenditures included a $400,000 transfer to the Ohio Republican Party, and $257,651 to Strategic Media Placement Inc., a political-ad firm with close ties to House Speaker Larry Householder and other Ohio Republicans.
The HRCC gave $211,300 to Rep. Mark Fraizer of Newark, and $42,278 to state Rep. Diane Grendell, a Geauga County Republican, to help them in their races against Thaddeus Claggett, a Newark businessman, and Frank Hall, a teacher. Both Fraizer and Grendel were appointed to the legislature last year to fill vacant seats.
The Senate Republican Caucus gave $307,800 each to Strategic Media Placement and Sen. Terry Johnson, a Portsmouth Republican appointed to the Senate last year who’s now running in a primary against David Uible.
The biggest expenditures for the Ohio House Democratic Caucus, which didn’t spend in primaries, was $29,000 it sent to the Ohio Democratic Party. ODP in turn gave $10,802 to Columbus state Rep. David Leland. It also gave to two non-office holders running in crowded primaries for what will be open seats — $9,502 to Willis Blackshear of Dayton, and $6,547 to Dontavius Jarrells of Columbus.
Senate Democrats had not yet reported as of the publication of this story.
Some notes from individual races and candidates
• Mansfield-area State Rep. Mark Romanchuk spent $112,125 in his race against Brunswick Mayor Ron Falconi for an open seat representing Ohio’s 22nd Senate District. Falconi meanwhile spent about $62,000. Romanchuk heads into the final days of the race with $121,350 in the bank, while Falconi has $62,082.
• A slate of Householder-backed candidates reported among the highest fundraising totals of anyone running for the House. Allen Freeman, a township trustee running for a Cincinnati-area House seat, raised $69,600, Fraizer raised about 68,600 and Marilyn John, a Richland County commissioner, raised $67,400. Their major donors included Householder himself, the Act Ohio Foundation, an umbrella organized-labor group for the building trades, and Political Education Patterns, a political arm of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18.
• A handful of Republican House members who aren’t facing competitive primaries gave big to the Ohio GOP Caucus. That included Athens state Rep. Jay Edwards, who gave $200,000 to the caucus and more than $32,000 to Householder-backed candidates running for open seats. Cincinnati state Rep. Bill Seitz gave $170,000 to the House GOP caucus.
• Householder himself has nearly $1.2 million in the bank, and Edwards has almost $421,000. For comparison, House Democratic Minority Leader Emilia Sykes of Akron has about $27,900.
• Major donors to Householder included Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Sue Haslam, who each gave $13,000, and Fred Bidwell, a retired Cleveland advertising executive who gave $10,000.