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Published: Saturday, 6/10/2006

In campaign fund race, Strickland doubles up his rival

BY JIM TANKERSLEY AND JIM PROVANCE
BLADE STAFF WRITERS

Ted Strickland leads at the polls and at the bank.

Mr. Strickland, a Democratic congressman from Lisbon, reported $2.6 million on hand in his run for governor yesterday, double the $1.3 million reported by his GOP opponent, Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.

Mr. Blackwell narrowly outraised Mr. Strickland from mid-April to June and has banked $6.6 million for the overall campaign, to Mr. Strickland's $6.1 million. But a final spending blitz in his May 2 primary win over Attorney General Jim Petro, including nearly $700,000 in television advertising, forced Mr. Blackwell to refill his account quickly.

A Blackwell spokesman, Carlo LoParo, declared yesterday's totals "really good" and evidence of "a united Republican Party rallying around Ken Blackwell."

Several recent polls, including the Ohio Poll, show Mr. Strickland beating Mr. Blackwell. A Strickland spokesman, Keith Dailey, said the fund-raising numbers showed unusual momentum for a Democratic candidate. "I'm not sure why Mr. Blackwell's folks would be happy about having only half of what we have," he said.

Mr. Strickland's top donors included nearly $130,000 from labor unions and $10,000 from Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner. Mr. Blackwell's totals included $130,000 from members of the Lindner family in Cincinnati.

The Ohio Republican Party gave Mr. Blackwell $530,000, and it sent $15,000 on May 31 to Citizens for Tax Reform, a group that had worked with Mr. Blackwell on a ballot measure to limit state spending; Mr. Blackwell and legislative leaders agreed to back away from that measure, in favor of a legislative-enacted cap, late last month.

The state Democratic Party gave Mr. Strickland more than $675,000 for the period. Mr. Strickland's congressional committee donated $350,000 to the state Democrats in March.

In the race to replace Mr. Blackwell as secretary of state, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann has $627,130, compared with $415,190 held by his Democratic opponent, former judge Jennifer Brunner.

Franklin County Treasurer Richard Cordray, the Democratic nominee for state treasurer, has $1.16 million on hand. Data were not available for Ashtabula County Auditor Sandra O'Brien, the Republican nominee.

In an auditor's race that pits state representatives from the Akron area, Republican Mary Taylor leads Democrat Barbara Sykes in available funds, $402,806 to $237,585.

Incumbent Auditor Betty Montgomery, the Republican nominee for attorney general, has $1.5 million to spend - more than any other GOP candidate.

Ms. Montgomery, who was hospitalized for 20 days with a respiratory disorder, saw her fund-raising slow during the most recent reporting period, as she collected $167,000. Her opponent, state Sen. Marc Dann, a Democrat from suburban Youngstown, collected $291,000 and has $278,000 in reserve.

A narrow win in a Democratic primary for an open Supreme Court seat left Columbus attorney Ben Espy with a balance of just $8,184. His Republican opponent in November, Lima-based appellate Judge Robert Cupp, has amassed $209,380. Mr. Espy outspent his primary opponent, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Sikora, by 10 to 1 in the final weeks.

Warren-based appellate Judge William O'Neill, who handily won the Democratic nomination for another Supreme Court seat, has sworn off campaign fund-raising; incumbent Justice Terrence O'Donnell of Rocky River has $212,351.

Judge O'Neill's primary opponent, Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge A.J. Wagner, lost despite having the state party's endorsement and spending nearly $90,000, about $20,000 of it his own money.

Blade Staff Writer Steve Eder contributed to this report.

Contact Jim Tankersley at:

jtankersley@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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