WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ohio’s U.S. Senate race is quickly becoming one of the most expensive in the country — to the tune of over $81.5 million and counting.
Candidates had to file their latest fundraising reports on Monday, which paint a picture of just how many millions of dollars are flowing in from supporters, from the candidates themselves, and from outside political groups.
There are six serious Republican candidates and two serious Democratic candidates hoping to fill the void left when Sen. Rob Portman (R) retires later this year.
According to paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Monday, here is what each candidate raised from supporters in Quarter 4 of 2021 (between October and December):
- Tim Ryan (D): $2.9 million
- Josh Mandel (R): $1.4 million
- J.D. Vance (R): $974,000
- Jane Timken (R): $593,000
- Matt Dolan (R): $362,000
- Morgan Harper (D): $342,000
- Bernie Moreno (R): $300,000
- Mike Gibbons (R): $82,000
One of the most striking statistics in this race is the amount of money certain Republican candidates are pouring in from their own bank accounts.
In the fourth quarter, according to FEC filings, four of the Senate hopefuls contributed or loaned enormous sums of money to their campaigns:
- Matt Dolan (R): $10.5 million ($8M as a contribution; $2.5M as a loan)
- Mike Gibbons (R): $3.5 million as a loan
- Jane Timken (R): $1.5 million as a loan
- Bernie Moreno (R): $750,000 as a loan
Since this Senate race started, here is how much each candidate has self-funded since declaring:
- Mike Gibbons (R): $11.4 million
- Matt Dolan (R): $10.5 million
- Bernie Moreno (R): $3.75 million
- Jane Timken (R): $3.5 million
- J.D. Vance (R): $100,000
- Josh Mandel (R): $0
- Tim Ryan (D): $0
- Morgan Harper (D): $0
Sarah Bryner of OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan group that follows money in politics, said it’s unique to have multiple millionaire candidates dedicate so much of their own wealth to a political race. But she said a large bank account doesn’t always translate to support from voters.
“If you're just funding your own campaign, that means that you're not making those phone calls to donors and making those phone calls to constituents in the same way that somebody who has an active fundraising campaign has to,” Bryner said.
Another striking data point in this race is how much money is being pumped into TV and radio advertising.
According to Medium Buying, a company based in Columbus that buys and tracks political ads, nearly $24 million has either been spent or reserved for ads in this race so far.
The company’s data shows Gibbons, a Cleveland investment banker, has spent at least $4.7 million on ads so far and has another $5.2 million reserved for between now and Primary Day on May 3.
Dolan, a state senator whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians, also has $5.2 million reserved for ads through the primary, according to Medium Buying.
Several Super PACS — political action committees that can raise unlimited sums of money and support a candidate without directly coordinating with their campaign — are also spending heavily on the race.
The Club for Growth has spent $2.2 million supporting Mandel, a former state treasurer who is making his third run for Senate. The USA Freedom Fund is also supporting Mandel, having spent $650,000 so far.
Vance, the author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ and a venture capitalist, is being backed by a Super PAC called “Protect Ohio Values” that is being funded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel. The group has, so far, spent $2.1 million backing Vance.
“Ohio is often really, really expensive,” Bryner, the researcher with OpenSecrets, said. "You have three major cities, big media markets — all of them. So it's not unheard of for that to be. And it's almost always pretty fairly competitive, for statewide races at least, so I expected to see it up there. But it's a lot for pretty early in the midterm.”
As the race heats up, FEC filings show how much money each candidate entered 2022 with:
- Matt Dolan (R): $10.4 million
- Mike Gibbons (R): $6.4 million
- Josh Mandel (R): $6 million
- Tim Ryan (D): $5 million
- Jane Timken (R): $3.6 million
- Bernie Moreno (R): $2.2 million
- J.D. Vance (R): $1.1 million
- Morgan Harper (D): $437,000
The filings also show Ryan, a congressman from northeast Ohio, far ahead of the entire field in terms of money raised by supporters since entering the race:
- Tim Ryan (D): $7.4 million (entered race in April)
- Josh Mandel (R): $4.9 million (entered race in February)
- Jane Timken (R): $3.4 million (entered race in February)
- Bernie Moreno (R): $3.2 million (entered race in April)
- J.D. Vance (R): $2.65 million (entered race in July)
- Morgan Harper (D): $878,000 (entered race in August)
- Mike Gibbons (R): $748,000 (entered race in April)
- Matt Dolan (R): $362,000 (entered race in September)