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COLUMBUS - He may be trailing in early polls, but Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland is so far winning the race for campaign cash in his bid for a second term.
Republican challenger John Kasich, however, has narrowed the gap over the last six months, according to reports filed with the Ohio Secretary of State's Office.
The reports due yesterday covered campaign fund-raising activity through the end of 2009, providing the first snapshot of the financial health of candidate war chests going into an election year.
Mr. Kasich, a former Columbus area congressman, raised a healthy $5 million during the period compared to Mr. Strickland's $2.8 million. But the incumbent governor's total bank balance, which was robust long before Mr. Kasich entered the race, totaled $6.2 million, $2.1 million larger than Mr. Kasich's $4.1 million.
Here's how other races have fared so far:
This race is crucial to both parties' hopes of controlling the five-member apportionment board that will redraw Ohio House and Senate districts next year.
State Sen. Jon Husted (R., Kettering) reported raising about $800,000 and had nearly $2.1 million sitting in the bank at year's end.
His opponent for the Republican nomination, former Ashtabula County auditor Sandra O'Brien, had a paltry $141,916. She has largely been self-funding her bid.
The Democratic slate is still in flux. State Rep. Jennifer Garrison (D., Marietta), a conservative representing a GOP-leaning district, has faced some opposition within the party's base.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said Thursday an announcement on the race will come next week.
In perhaps a sign that she will seek re-election to her House seat instead, Ms. Garrison yesterday filed her annual report under her House campaign committee, not secretary of state. She had a total of $294,541 on hand.
Democratic incumbent Richard Cordray raised $516,792 to close 2009 with $2.6 million in the bank, another record, according to the Ohio Democratic Party.
That eclipsed the $1 million that Republican challenger Mike DeWine had on hand, half of which was a loan to his own campaign.
Mr. Cordray won a special election in 2008 to replace disgraced fellow Democrat Marc Dann. Mr. DeWine is seeking a return to politics after losing his U.S. Senate seat in 2006.
The reports for auditor, another apportionment board seat, reflect the state of the race before the incumbent, Mary Taylor, joined Mr. Kasich's ticket two weeks ago.
Democrat David Pepper, a Hamilton County commissioner, raised $469,708 between July 1 and Dec. 31 and was sitting on a balance of $604,966 when he closed the books for the year.
As of the end of the year, state Rep. Seth Morgan (R., Huber Heights), then seeking re-election to his House seat, had $29,017 in the bank. Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost, a candidate for attorney general at the time, was close behind with $27,319.
Democratic incumbent Kevin Boyce ended 2009 with $646,524 in the bank, having raised about $249,000 in six months.
Republican state Rep. Josh Mandel, once a strong fund-raiser for House Republicans, continued to rake it in for his first statewide bid, raising about $950,000 and closing the year with a robust $2 million bank balance.
Three of the all-Republican court's seven seats are on the ballot.
Justice Maureen O'Connor is seeking to replace Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, who is barred from another term because of his age. She ended 2009 with a healthy $93,513 in the bank. No Democrat has yet announced for the race.
Incumbent Justice Judith Lanzinger, of Toledo, is seeking a second six-year term and had just over $15,000 in the bank. The Democratic candidate, Warren-based appellate Judge Mary Jane Trapp, had a balance of just $392.
The third bench seat belongs to Justice Paul Pfeifer, who had $99,802 on hand. Democrats have yet to name a challenger.
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