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Published: Tuesday, 8/8/2000

Republican high court candidates enjoy big month for fund-raising

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - Republican appeals court Judge Terrence O'Donnell surpassed Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick in fund-raising last month for their November showdown, raising more than a quarter of a million dollars.

The Cleveland judge had more than $454,000 in the bank by the end of July, compared to $303,000 for Justice Resnick, a Toledo Democrat seeking a third six-year term on the state's high court.

Justice Resnick is reaching deep into her coffers, spending nearly as much in July as Judge O'Donnell raised. She has invested nearly $208,000 in television advertising. Of the four high court candidates, she started out the campaign with the fullest treasury.

The candidates are likely to have little trouble hitting the $550,000 spending cap set by the court, leaving the true duel of dollars to the union/trial lawyer and pro-business/insurance company factions being formed.

The factions are expected to start independent and issue campaigns in favor of their candidates or causes.

There's still no contest, at least in fund-raising, in the second, lower-profile Supreme Court race on the ballot.

According to the latest filings with the Ohio Secretary of State's office, incumbent Deborah Cook, an Akron Republican seeking a second term, had nearly as strong a month as fellow Republican O'Donnell. She raised more than $213,000 last month, giving her nearly $404,000 in the bank.

Her Democratic challenger, Hamilton Municipal Court Judge Tim Black, raised less than $88,000 during the period and had just $129,000 on hand by month's end.

Mr. Black had to start from scratch after a primary election challenge from Dayton appeals Judge James Brogan depleted his campaign coffers.

"Receiving $87,675 in July alone proves that we will be fully funded this fall," he said. "I am proud that the contributions are coming from a broad range of people."

The 2000 high court election has become a battle over judicial philosophy, and that is showing up in contributions to the candidates.

Justice Resnick, one of just two Democrats on the court but still part of a 4-3 majority on many controversial issues, has become the symbol of the Great Divide. She was the author of the court's two most recent controversial opinions, one striking down the state's funding of schools and another declaring the General Assembly's latest attempt at reining in jury awards in product liability lawsuits unconstitutional.

Justice Cook was in the all-Republican minority on both issues.

The Ohio Education Association gave $15,000 each to the campaigns of Justice Resnick and Judge Black over the last month. Justice Resnick has received contributions of $5,000 each from seven law firms and the United Auto Workers of America.

Among the biggest contributors to Judge Black's campaign, at $5,000 each, were the Teamsters, Southwest Ohio District Council of Carpenters, and two law firms.

Justice Cook and Judge O'Donnell, who share a "judicial restraint" philosophy, have received major support from business interests - primarily insurance, steel, and coal firms - and from law firms.

Pumping $5,000 into both of their campaigns in July were Chicago insurance firm CNA, financial corporation Citigroup, Ohio Valley Coal Co., and American Coal Co.

Judge O'Donnell's campaign was boosted by $5,000 contributions from the American Council of Life Insurance, Ohio Certified Public Accountants, and the Cleveland law firm of Calfee, Halter, & Griswold.



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