Heading into the fall campaign season, members of Congress from northwest Ohio have large campaign war chests compared with their opponents.
A Blade review of the most recent congressional campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission, for the second quarter of 2014, shows that all 16 incumbents lead their challengers, if they have any, by comfortable margins in raising money.
In northwest Ohio, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Urbana), in the 4th Congressional District, had the most money in his campaign account as of June 30, with $962,822, compared with $11,699 reported by his schoolteacher opponent, Democrat Janet Garrett of Oberlin.
Mr. Jordan, now in his 4th term, contributed $250,000 on May 28 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, which targets winnable House seats for Republican candidates.
“That tells me that Jordan, through his fund-raising and his check-writing wants to be a player and wants to have influence,” said political science professor David Cohen at the University of Akron’s Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.
Mr. Jordan, a leading Tea Party sympathizer in the House, previously chaired the extra-conservative Republican Study Committee. He was mentioned as a contender for GOP leadership after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) was defeated in a primary election in June.
In Ohio’s 5th District, U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) had $547,934 in his account as of June 30, compared with $1,663 sitting in the account of his Democratic opponent, the Rev. Robert Fry of Toledo. The district includes western Lucas County, including big parts of South and West Toledo, along with most of the northwest corner of Ohio.
As vice chairman of the communications and technology subcommittee, Mr. Latta appears to be reaping the fund-raising benefit of that leadership role. His latest fundraising shows a $4,000 contribution from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association PAC on June 28 and $4,000 from the Verizon Communications Inc. Good Government Club on June 30.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) had $390,182 in cash on hand, as of June 30. Her Republican opponent, Tea Party activist Richard May of Cleveland, hasn’t raised enough money yet to have to file a report.
Mr. May’s lack of fund-raising success is partially self-inflicted. In June, he declared a two-month campaign boycott of Lucas County because of his displeasure with the chaotic Lucas County Republican Party central committee meeting June 11. In that meeting, incumbent Chairman Jon Stainbrook defeated Bill Delaney, the Tea Party-backed candidate for chairman, amid complaints of heavy-handed tactics by security guards hired by Mr. Stainbrook.
Mr. Cohen said that even when candidates occupy extremely safe seats, they still raise money in order to donate it to the party or to other candidates of their party, both to boost their political ideology and to win gratitude from the candidates they support.
He said the weak showing of most of the challengers is because Ohio’s 16 districts were designed to avoid political competition. Republicans who controlled the reapportionment process in 2011 created 12 districts with Republican majorities and four with strong Democratic majorities.
“Without a doubt this is a reflection of Ohio’s highly gerrymandered congressional districts. We have 16 congressional districts in the state, 16 of which are safe seats,” Mr. Cohen said.
Across the state line in Michigan, U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R., Tipton) has a large campaign war chest, but so does his Democratic opponent.
That may be because Mr. Walberg’s district, which includes the southern half of Monroe County and most of Lenawee and Hillsdale counties, is one of the most competitive districts in the state, with a slight Republican lean.
The influential Cook Political Report, which rates congressional districts’ political leanings, shows Mr. Walberg’s 7th District as having a Republican leaning of 3 percentage points, the third most competitive of Michigan’s 14 districts.
Mr. Walberg reported raising $1,257,349 during the second quarter, spending $482,390, and ending the period with $1,061,050 heading into the early fall campaign period. His Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Pam Byrnes, raised $904,484, spent $295,281, and ended the period with $609,203.