Taft still has $4 million, Fisher $632,000 for ads; Candidates file reports

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

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COLUMBUS — Heading into the stretch run of the governor’s race, Republican Bob Taft has more than six times as much money in the bank as Democrat Lee Fisher, according to campaign finance reports filed yesterday.

The enormous gap is somewhat misleading because Mr. Fisher has already bought most of the air time he will need for TV commercials, while Mr. Taft still has some bills to pay. But Taft officials were excited by the numbers nonetheless.

“We’re quite pleased that we’re going to have ample resources to get our message out,” Taft spokesman Brett Buerck said.

According to the reports, Mr. Taft had $4.03 million on hand at the filing deadline, while Mr. Fisher had $632,000. Mr. Buerck said he expected the campaign would spend all of its money before the election, mostly on TV time.

In the first two weeks of October, the Taft campaign received $528,000 in contributions, compared with $295,000 for the Fisher campaign.

The Democrat has outspent the Republican overall so far, $7.0 million to $5.4 million, which accounts for some of the gap between the two sides in money on hand.

“We’re already prepaid for the majority of our planned TV time, and that explains some of the gap,” said Fisher spokeswoman Judy Barbao. “But we’re confident we are going to have enough money to get our message out to people.”

The two minor-party candidates, the Natural Law Party’s Zanna Feitler, who is listed on the ballot as an independent, and the Reform Party’s John Mitchel, each raised less than $1,000 in the last reporting period.

In most of the other statewide races, the reports mirror what poll results have been saying for months: A Republican sweep may be in the making.

In the auditor’s race, Republican incumbent Jim Petro has spent $1.04 million, compared with only $80,000 for his Democratic opponent, Louis Strike.

In the race for secretary of state, Republican Ken Blackwell has outspent his opponent, Charleta Tavares, by more than six times: $1.6 million to $241,000. Included in Mr. Blackwell’s total is a single $854,000 payment for television airtime, along with several large radio buys.

While Democrat Richard Cordray has outspent incumbent Attorney General Betty Montgomery in their race, $915,000 to $887,000, Ms. Montgomery has a stunning war chest left to spend before Election Day. She has $1.62 million on hand; Mr. Cordray has $43,000.

Ms. Montgomery, Mr. Petro, and Mr. Blackwell all have had commanding leads in recent polls.

And in the treasurer’s race, which polls have called the tightest of the down-ticket battles, Republican Joe Deters raised $728,000 in the first two weeks of October, compared with $18,000 for Democrat John Donofrio. Mr. Deters has outspent his opponent, $1.19 million to $513,000, and still has more cash on hand.

In the three races for the Ohio Supreme Court, the incumbents have outraised all their challengers.

Democrat Gary Tyack, who is running for chief justice, has outspent incumbent Thomas Moyer $296,000 to $32,000. But Mr. Moyer still has $531,000 in the bank, compared with $6,000 for the challenger.

Republican Justice Paul Pfeifer has outraised and outspent challenger Ronald Suster, and has 10 times more cash on hand, $588,000 to $59,000. Mr. Pfeifer has spent $434,000 on TV commercials.

In the lone bright spot for Democrats, incumbent Justice Francis Sweeney has been able to outspend his Republican challenger, Judge Stephen Powell, $407,000 to $41,000, with more than 85 per cent of Mr. Sweeney’s total devoted to television. But Mr. Powell has $100,000 left to spend, compared to $50,000 for Mr. Sweeney.

All told, the eight statewide Republican candidates outraised their Democratic opponents during the period, $1.689 million to $529,000.

This was the last campaign finance report the candidates are required to file before the Nov. 3 election.