COLUMBUS, Ohio — Reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission are giving an indication of the campaign funds of candidates running for Ohio’s U.S. Senate Seat.

Sen. Sherrod Brown is one of the two incumbent Democrats in the 2024 race who is running for reelection in states that were previously won by former President Donald Trump. 

What You Need To Know

  • Candidates are preparing for the March primary

  • Ohio U.S. Senate candidates are vying for the seat, and their quarterly funding reports were released on the Federal Election Commission's website

  • U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown reported having $14.6 million in campaign funds at the end of 2023

In a race that’s garnering a lot of attention, the three Republicans running for Ohio’s U.S. Senate are not breaking the bank with their spending.

Republican State Sen. Matt Dolan is leading the way with $4.8 million, businessman Bernie Moreno with just over $2 million and Secretary of State Frank LaRose trailing behind with about $700,000.

“None of them have enough money to run a comprehensive statewide Senate campaign,” said David Niven, Political Science Professor at The Ohio State University. “And, I think that’s a pretty shocking development in the context of one of the most consequential races, you know, across the country.”

Dolan, LaRose and Moreno combined raised less than $2 million during the fourth quarter of 2023.

“Frank LaRose out raised his opponents and is clearly the man to beat this race,” said Ben Kindel, a Campaign Spokesman for LaRose. “He’s the only proven conservative and the only one who has actually won statewide elections. And, in November, he’ll be the one to finally retire Sherrod Brown.”

“Bernie’s recent surge in the polls, along with his continued strong fundraising figures make it clear: he is the candidate to beat,” said Reagan McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the Moreno campaign. “Our campaign is coalescing support from hardworking Ohioans across the state who know that Bernie is the candidate who can unite the party and defeat Sherrod Brown in November.”

“As Bernie Moreno and Frank LaRose continue to fall behind in raising money, it’s clear that Matt Dolan is now the candidate best positioned with the resources, message, and record for conservative results to win this primary and defeat Sherrod Brown in November,” said Kathi Paroska, Dolan’s campaign manager.

But what does spending really mean?

“You know, fundraising can also just be kind of a sign of the overall health of a campaign,” said Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor, Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “Although, one one way to look at it is that whoever ends up winning the Republican nomination will see an uptick in their actual fundraising because they will be anointed this nominee.” 

Meanwhile, as the March primary approaches, voters will likely be inundated with advertisements on television, digital platforms, and even on the radio. Data from the agency AdImpact shows both Moreno and Dolan have spent over $5 million on ads during the course of the campaign. LaRose has relied solely on a political action committee to do the advertising for him.

“None of these candidates feel confident that the average Republican voter knows who they are and what they’re about,” Niven said. “As many dollars as they possibly can, they are going to send in the direction of television to get that word out.” 

At this point, the political scientists Spectrum News 1 spoke with expect whoever wins the March primary will have enough money to spend ahead of November’s general election.