Last minute donations: Who gave to Ohio’s federal candidates in the final weeks of the election?
Donors spent a lot of money in Ohio during this year’s election. Campaign advertising tracker AdImpact estimated $344 million went into ads on TV, online or over the radio. OpenSecrets, which tracks federal campaigns, showed candidates raising about $100 million — and that didn’t take into account the final week of fundraising.
During the final stretch of the campaign — the last twenty days — candidates face additional reporting requirements. They must notify the Federal Election Commission within 48 hours of any contributions or loans they receive worth more than $1,000.
What the reports tell us — and what they don’t
Across all of Ohio’s federal races, for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, candidates reported a little more than $3.8 million during those final few weeks. That’s a substantial amount of money sloshing in at the last minute, but it still represents only about 4% of the total raised in those races. It’s even further dwarfed by the amount actually spent on advertising across federal and state races.
The 48-hour reports are also blind to outside spending. Particularly in the U.S. Senate race that’s important. Outside organizations like the Mitch McConnell aligned Senate Leadership Fund spent heavily in Ohio to support Republican J.D. Vance’s campaign. It’s the only Ohio race this cycle where the candidate who raised the most money didn’t go on to win.
The reports offer a glimpse however at the donors and organizations attempting to help nudge a favored candidate over the finish line, or at least increase the odds they’ll answer the phone if they win. In other cases they show candidates taking donations from lawmakers who could soon be their colleagues, or scrambling to shore up balance sheets with transfers from joint committees.
The competitive races
Republican Sen. elect J.D. Vance: $809,077.38
Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan: $1,473,347.18
In a pattern that continued throughout the race, Ryan drastically outperformed Vance in fundraising. But the disparity at the 11th hour is actually quite a bit narrower than it was at their regular quarterly reporting deadlines.
Tim Ryan, whose campaign aggressively courted independents and moderate Republicans, picked up donations from a PAC controlled by Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Arizona, as well as the progressive oriented Upset the Setup PAC. Among the nearly 1,000 donations that rolled in, are a handful of checks from the Miami Heat’s general manager, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, maxed out donations from the founder of Kind Bars and his wife and the CEO of Etsy. The CEO of Dayton Childrens contributed, and regardless of what his billboards say, Attorney Tim Misny paid the Ryan campaign $1,500.
Vance collected donations from a number of county Republican parties and from PACs controlled by leading lights in the GOP. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo all chipped in through their political committees. Vance also got the backing of issue-oriented groups like the National Pro-Life Alliance and Campaign for Working Families PACs. His contributions from individuals skewed toward finance types — Mark Kvamme who founded Columbus-based Drive Capital wrote a check, for instance. Miriam Adelson, the wife of casino owner and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, contributed $2,900.
Democratic Rep. elect Greg Landsman: $137,143.49
Republican Rep. Steve Chabot: $204,250.00
Although Landsman raised more money throughout the campaign, incumbent Steve Chabot saw a larger last-minute burst of contributions. In addition to PAC contributions from members of congress in California or Virginia, Landsman received a donation from Rep. Joyce Beatty’s PAC. He also got contributions from Jon Favreau (the podcaster — not the writer/director) and Jerry Springer, former Cincinnati mayor and talk show host.
Chabot’s list of donors includes congressional colleagues in Florida and Texas as well as the dying embers of former Speaker John Boehner’s political committee. He picked up donations from companies like Cox cable and Delta airlines as well as anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony Fund, Family Research council and National Pro-Life Alliance.
Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur: $118,043.00
Republican J.R. Majewski: $162,664.61
Rep. Kaptur’s contributions lean toward organizations rather than individual donors. In addition to colleagues, she collected donations from labor organizations like Union of Bricklayers, Brotherhood of Carpenters and Rural Letter Carriers. Kaptur who sits on the Defense subcommittee also got contributions aerospace companies General Dynamic and Sierra Nevada.
Republican J.R. Majewski’s most notable transactions in the final weeks are five transfers totaling a little more than $75,000 from his victory fund. Majewski got a check from firebrand U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida. A bit closer to home, he received donations from GOP Senate candidate Mike Gibbons and U.S. Rep. elect Max Miller’s PAC.
Democratic Rep. elect Emilia Sykes: $172,003.08
Republican Madison Gesiotto Gilbert: $70,375.42
Rep. elect Sykes drastically outpaced her opponent in the final weeks thanks in large part to labor coalitions. UAW, AFL-CIO, sheet metal, boilermakers, postal supervisors and machinists all donated to her campaign. She also received contributions from Moms Fed Up which advocates for more women in congress, and POET Pac which lobbies for ag and biofuel. Among the individuals who gave is former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Gilbert got the support from her county party as well as recognizable politicians in the state like Rep. Troy Balderson and Attorney General Dave Yost. She also received money from House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy who may wind up as House Speaker next year. Other notable donors include the head of seed company Burpee and Charles Schwab (yes, that one).
The less competitive races
Republican Rep. Bob Latta: $57,700.00
Democrat Craig Swartz: $4,000.00
The bulk of Rep. Latta’s contributions come from interest organizations or companies in the tech or energy sector — Latta sits on the Energy and Commerce committee. Among the businesses who gave were Salesforce, Qualcomm, VMWare and Exxon.
Swartz received just three donations in the final stretch. One came from a family member and another from the UAW.
Republican Rep. Bill Johnson: $40,900.00
Democrat Lou Lyras: $8,000.00
Rep. Bill Johnson’s donations skew toward energy and health, which aligns with his committee assignments. He got donations from CVS and Renaissance Health Services as well as Duke Energy and Fluor Corporation, which builds energy infrastructure. Johnson also got contributions from the heads of B&N Coal and Ohio CAT.
The $8,000 Lou Lyras reported were donations he made to his campaign.
Republican Rep. elect Max Miller: $33,000.00
Democrat Matthew Diemer: $6,400.00
Rep. elect Miller received donations from a handful of his future colleagues the most notable of which was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia. He also got a donation from the Ohio Coal Association. In terms of individuals, Ohio CAT’s chief cut a check as did private equity firm Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman and his wife.
Diemer received donations from the OBGYN PAC and the Forward Party. Former Presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang heads up the latter, pitching it as centrist response to growing polarization.
The power of incumbency
Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup: $52,650.00
Democrat Samantha Meadows: none
Rep. Wenstrup raised most of his money in the final weeks from businesses and interest groups. Those tended toward finance — American Bankers Association, Huntington Bancshares and JPMorgan — or construction — national association of homebuilders and national apartment association.
Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty: $52,400.00
Republican Lee Stahley: none
Rep. Beatty brought in donations from big national firms in finance or consulting like Vanguard, Prudential, Price Waterhouse Cooper and Grant Thornton. But more notable were her donations from within the district. Les Wexner, who founded The Limited and Victoria’s Secret, made a contribution as did his wife Abigail who sits on the Nationwide Children’s Hospital board. Curtis Moody, who leads the architecture firm Moody Nolan gave, too. Local businesses like AI startup Olive and steel processor Worthington Industries also made contributions.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan: $127,700.00
Democrat Tamie Wilson: none
Rep. Jordan has long been a prolific fundraiser, but raising six figures across three weeks in a non-competitive race is still impressive. The bulk of that money came from individuals, including former GOP Senate candidate Mike Gibbons and his wife. Drilling down a bit further, more than half of the nearly $100,000 he raised from individuals came from in-state donors.
In terms of groups, Jordan got contributions from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, alcohol wholesalers, pork producers, the hunting organization Safari Club International and a company that makes silencers for firearms.
Republican Rep. Warren Davidson: $28,300.00
Democrat Vanessa Enoch: none
Rep. Davidson’s fundraising tends toward finance with a notable emphasis on cryptocurrency. He only brought in donations from four individuals, one is a partner with Andreesen Horowitz leading investments in crypto and another is an executive with Riot Blockchain. Davidson also got a donation from exchange platform Coinbase. Other financial firms like Huntington, Lendmark and CNG Holdings made donations as well. Davidson serves on the Financial Services Committee and he’s the ranking member on a fintech task force.
Republican Rep. Mike Turner: $63,800.00
Democrat David Esrati: none
Rep. Turner drew a substantial amount of his donations from real estate and construction interests. The National Multifamily Housing Council gave as well as the Build PAC and American Council of Engineering Companies. Several of the individual donors lead construction firms, too. Turner’s committee assignments focus on intelligence and defense. Oshkosh, which builds military vehicles, and the semiconductor company AMD made contributions to Turner’s campaign.
Democratic Rep. Shontel Brown: $49,800.00
Republican Eric Brewer: none
Rep. Brown’s donors offer an interesting constellation of interests. She picked up donations from Labor organizations as well as the Ohio Farm Bureau and cigarette company Reynolds American. Brown also got donations from DoorDash, Charter Communications and MGM Resorts. Notable Cleveland area figures gave as well. Timothy Wulinger who used to head up the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, attorney and businessman Michael Horvitz and real estate developer David Heller all contributed to Brown’s campaign.
Republican Rep. Troy Balderson: $45,700.00
Democrat Amy Rippel-Elton: none
Rep. Balderson’s donors intersect with a handful of his Democratic colleagues. AI startup Olive and steel processor Worthington Industries gave to Democrat Joyce Beatty and to Rep. Balderson. Cigarette company Reynolds American, which gave to Democrat Shontel Brown, also contributed to Balderson. He got other donations from Toyota, the Ohio poultry association and a trade group representing power companies. The head of Columbus-based real estate developer Thrive Co. also donated to Balderson.
Republican Rep. David Joyce: $77,500.00
Democrat Matt Kilboy: none
Rep. Joyce pulled in donations from a wide array of sources. Two Native American nations contributed, as well as Target, Chevron, Amazon and NetJets. Like other representatives he got donations from Worthington Industries and Reynolds American. He also brought in a donation from former Congressman Steve Stivers’ PAC. In terms of individual donations, the COO of Scott’s Miracle Gro and the CEO of Phantom Fireworks both wrote checks.
Republican Rep. Mike Carey: $67,400.00
Democrat Gary Josephson: none
Rep. Carey’s fundraising runs the gamut as well. Like other representatives in Central Ohio he got a donation from Olive AI. Notable companies contributing to Carey’s campaign include Toyota, Cardinal Health and FedEx. He also got several donations tied to construction. PACs representing homebuilders, general contractors and engineering companies all made contributions. Martin Savko, who leads a Columbus-based commercial construction firm made a donation. The Scalas, whose Kenmore construction has contracted with ODOT for interstate improvement projects, both made contributions to Carey as well.
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