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Columbus Dispatch...
Candidates for state’s top court rake it in
By  David Eggert,  Jim Siegel  and  Darrel Rowland
Wednesday February 1, 2012 

A 6-1 majority on the state Supreme Court is not enough for Ohio Republicans. 

Butler County Domestic Relations Judge Sharon L. Kennedy raised more than $152,000 since Nov. 7 — which Ohio Republican leaders are touting as a record for a challenger at this stage of the campaign — in her bid to unseat Democratic Justice Yvette McGee Brown. 

However, McGee Brown has raised nearly $214,000 in just the past three weeks, campaign-finance reports due yesterday show. 

McGee Brown was appointed to the high court by outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland a little more than a year ago, ending a 7-0 GOP majority. The only Democrat in a statewide office other than U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, she is running to retain her seat through 2014.

Kennedy said the amount of money she raised demonstrates widespread support. She said she expects the Republican Party to fully back her run with financial support — despite the party’s sizable majority on the court. 

“They’re going to do what it takes to win because they believe in me,” she said. 

McGee Brown is the most-successful fundraiser in the Supreme Court race so far, more than doubling the totals of two GOP justices seeking re-election. 

“I’m very humbled by the broad base of support,” said McGee Brown, citing backing from business groups, lawyers and others. “It’s a great start to the campaign.” 

The campaign-finance reports yesterday also showed that a former director of Lehman Brothers was Gov. John Kasich’s top individual contributor in the last half of 2011. 

Jerry Grundhofer, now retired in Las Vegas, wrote a $5,000 check to his former Lehman colleague in October. Kasich’s role as a managing director of Lehman Brothers until the company’s collapse in 2008 was a major campaign issue in the 2010 race for governor. 

About 30 percent of the Kasich campaign’s outlay last year went to a Virginia campaign-finance consultant. Almost $17,000 was spent on food. 

Secretary of State Jon Husted’s campaign kitty exploded in the final two months of the year with multiple fundraisers. He got almost 200 donations of at least $1,000 apiece in November and December, pushing his total for the year over $400,000. 

Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine raised more than $1.7 million during his first year back in state office. He got $226,000 in November from the Ohio Republican Party but still had $525,000 in loans outstanding. 

GOP Auditor Dave Yost’s two largest donors were corporate heavyweights Wayne M. Boich, who heads an Ohio coal company among other business interests, and Karen Wright, owner of Ariel Corp. in Mount Vernon. 

Kasich, Husted, DeWine and Yost aren’t up for re-election until 2014. 

The heavily lopsided campaign-finance totals for legislative caucuses reflect the political realities in the Statehouse: Republicans have long controlled the Senate and now dominate it with a 23-10 majority; they recaptured the House in 2010; and now they have new gerrymandered districts that help them keep those margins. 

House and Senate Republican caucuses combined last year to raise $8.72 million and have $7.7 million left to spend. Legislative Democrats raised about $839,000, mostly in the House. Senate Republicans have about 90 times as much money on hand as the Democratic caucus, which did not top $75,000 in contributions for the year. 

But House Minority Leader Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, said folks should not worry about the Democrats’ money disadvantage, part of which can be attributed to the Senate Bill 5 campaign last year, which sucked up huge amounts of union money. 

“People are energized, and by the time the election rolls around, we’ll have plenty of funds for our campaigns,” he said. 

Dispatch reporter Catherine Candisky contributed to this story. 

Read this and other articles at the Columbus Dispatch

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