Kasich Holds Huge Fundraising Advantage Over FitzGerald


UPDATED: Wednesday July 31, 2013 5:21 PM

In the likely matchup for governor of Ohio next year, incumbent John Kasich has built an impressive war chest over his likely Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald.

In reports filed Wednesday, Kasich has $4.4 million cash on hand.  He raised $2.6 million during the first half of this year.

FitzGerald has $543,000 cash on hand.  He raised a total of $600,494, which includes donations made after the June 30 reporting period.

It also includes a last minute donation of $119,500 made from the Ohio Democratic Party.

That donation made up nearly 20 percent of his fundraising total.

Former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Leland, who was Ted Strickland's finance chairman in both 2006 and 2010, says the FitzGerald campaign will have to refocus on fundraising.

"Unfortunately in this business, in a state the size of Ohio, the campaign has to dedicate 90 percent of its time to fundraising," said Leland.  "I don't know if that's the best for democracy, but it's a fact.  That's what Ted Strickland did in 2005 and a great part of 2006 and that's how we set the record.  It's just the willingness to spend the time and effort and get people onboard financially."

Strickland, who endorsed FitzGerald earlier this week, collected a record-breaking $17 million for his first campaign for governor.

Leland says fundraising at this early stage is critical.  He says the FitzGerald campaign has to be wary that at some point in the next seven to ten months the Kasich campaign and national Republicans will spend early to define him.

Democratic strategist Dale Butland downplays the numbers and says FitzGerald's numbers are not that far off from Kasich's July 2009 campaign report.

"Let's be fair and compare it to what Kasich raised at this point in 2009 when he was a challenger to an incumbent governor," said Butland.  "Back then, Kasich raised a half million dollars.  That was after 18 years in Congress and working on Wall Street with all those billionaires.  FitzGerald raising the same makes Democrats very happy."

But Republicans dismiss the comparison, pointing out that Kasich had raised nearly $5 million by the end of 2009.

"The big problem is if he can't raise money, if he reports he's only raised a half million dollars, how does he compete with the governor because he's got to raise his name ID?" said Republican strategist Terry Casey.  "The Kasich people are smart - they saw what Obama did to Romney, define your opponent before he can define himself."

A Quinnipiac University poll last month showed Kasich leading FitzGerald 47-33 percent.

The same poll found 76 percent of Ohioans say they don't know enough about FitzGerald to form an opinion of him.

FitzGerald, appearing on Capitol Square earlier this month, dismissed concerns about his fundraising.

"The campaign is going well, there's a lot of interest in this race" said FitzGerald.  "To be presumed to be the nominee 16 months before the election is a good place for any Democratic candidate, or any challenger, to be really."

In 2010, the gubernatorial election set records for campaign fundraising.

Strickland raised $19.8 million, and Kasich raised $18.3 million.

Leland said he and Strickland spent a lot of time in 2005 and 2006 on the fundraising effort.

"I've always been a big believer that fundraising can be successful if you put time and effort into it," said Leland.  "The money is out there.  But FitzGerald has to make a strong case why he's better than Kasich."

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