Ohio’s governor race one of most expensive in U.S.; DeWine gives self $3M loan

Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray   TY GREENLEES / STAFF
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Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray   TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Polls show race between Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray a tie.

Nearly $50 million has been spent so far in the race for Ohio governor making it one of the most expensive in the nation.

Republican Mike DeWine wrote a $3 million check to his gubernatorial campaign this week — adding to the $1 million personal loan he made last year, according to campaign finance reports filed on Thursday.

DeWine campaign spokesman Josh Eck said there have been no conversations yet about whether DeWine will forgive the loans or require they be repaid. In 2010 when he won the attorney general’s office he did not forgive the $2 million personal loan he made to his campaign and it was eventually paid back to him.

Raising millions of dollars to repay campaign loans while in office raises ethical issues, said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “As a sitting governor, that is a horrible incentive and it was a horrible incentive as an attorney general and it leads to pay to play politics.”

Advertising Analytics, which tracks political spending, named Ohio the third most expensive governor race in the country with $43 million spent as of Oct. 23.

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The campaign finance reports filed Thursday show DeWine raised $1.27 million, spent $11.84 million and — with the loans — has $6.1 million in cash reserves.

Democrat Richard Cordray out-raised and under-spent DeWine in the latest reporting period. He pulled in $1.6-million, received $251,000 in in kind support, spent $9.9 million and has $1.17 million in reserves.

The spending candidates campaigns doesn’t include money from outside ally groups, such as the $1.6 million spent by the RGA Ohio 2018 PAC that supports DeWine or the $2.5 million spent by the Ohio Education Association PAC that supports Cordray.

The latest campaign finance reports detail fundraising, spending and cash reserves between July 1 and Oct. 17 for candidates, political parties, legislative caucuses, issue campaigns and others. Some campaigns elect to include numbers through Oct. 25, the pre-general report filing deadline.

Candidates for statewide office have also been filing monthly reports for August, September and October but those don’t include info on expenditures or cash reserves.

The report comes as Cordray and DeWine make their final push with voters, who started casting early ballots Oct. 10. The contest is a rematch from 2010 when DeWine ousted Cordray from the attorney general’s office, narrowly beating him by 48,686 votes.

Related: Who has the money? Cordray out raises DeWine for September

Public polls show the race is razor close — within the margin of error in most surveys. Issues in the race have included: crime, taxes, jobs and economy, charter schools and health care.

Big money for State Issue 1

Ohioans are also deciding whether to amend the state constitution to reduce criminal penalties for drug use and possession charges. State Issue 1 calls for converting felony 4 and felony 5 drug charges into misdemeanor offenses that generally won’t carry prison time and plow the savings into drug treatment.

Related: State Issue 1: What is it?

Backers of State Issue 1 raised $9.8 million, plus another $1.4 million in in kind support, spent $5.8 million and have $4.3 million on hand. Nearly $6 million of it came from out of state non-profits, such as the Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy and the Tides Center. Less than $4,000 came from inside Ohio.

Opponents raised $1 million, spent $140,044 and have $877,006 on hand. Most of the money came from Ohioans for a Healthy Economy, a non-profit issue advocacy group.

Here is the run down on fundraising, spending and cash on hand in other key races:

Attorney General: Democrat Steve Dettelbach raised $830,000, spent almost $3 million and has $2.6 million on hand; Republican Dave Yost raised $317,000, received $156,000 in in kind support, spent $1.9 million and has $2.2 million on hand.

Auditor: Republican Keith Faber raised $226,000, spent $723,000 and has $852,000 on hand; Democrat Zack Space raised $201,000, spent $753,000 and has $700,000 on hand.

Secretary of State: Democrat Kathleen Clyde raised $386,000, spent $2 million and has $472,000 on hand; Republican Frank LaRose raised $280,000, spent $1.5 million and has $636,000 on hand.

Treasurer: Democrat Rob Richardson raised $204,000, spent $431,000 and has $1.2 million on hand; Republican Robert Sprague raised $172,000, spent $763,000 and has $84,000 on hand.

Supreme Court: Republican Craig Baldwin raised $49,710, spent $295,523 and has $22,726 on hand; Republican Mary Degenaro raised $60,000, spent $271,000 and has $79,000 on hand; Democrat Melody Stewart raised $56,000, spent $135,000 and has $100,000 on hand; Democrat Michael Donnelly raised $102,000, spent nothing and has $326,000 on hand.

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COMING IN SUNDAY’S PAPER

A look at what the candidates for governor plan to do to bring jobs to Ohio and help the economy.

SPECIAL EDITION OF WHIO REPORTS

DeWine and Cordray are on WHIO Reports with Jim Otte on Channel 7 Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

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