So today we get to see at least the financial health of the targeted Congressional races in Ohio.  Check back as we’ll update as the evening progresses:

OH-01:  In his rematch against former Congressman Steve Chabot, Driehaus reported raising $230k with $973k on hand.  That’s nearly $1 million on hand.  Wow.

Chabot raised roughly $306k on hand and has a little over a $1 million on hand.  Very, very competitive race financially.  The more I think about this race, though, the more I like Driehaus’ chances.  I think the voters here were sending a message two years ago:  They weren’t just fed up with Bush; they were tired of Chabot.

OH-06:  Some conservatives have tried to suggest that Bill Johnson poses a threat to Congressman Charlie Wilson.  Then again, they also said that about Chuck Blasdel in 2006 who lost by some 50,000 votes to Wilson (a larger victory than Congressman Strickland had gotten after the Sixth District had been redrawn).  Johnson has $147k on hand but his campaign owes…$45k to  the candidate in unpaid loans.  That’s nearly half the amount Blasdel had (debt-free) at this point in 2006. 

Guess how much I believe this race is in play without even seeing Charlie Wilson’s campaign finance report. (Although last night, Wilson reported having $600k on hand and raising almost as much as Johnson claims to have on hand.)

OH-08: Justin Coussoule’s campaign has been lighting up the blogsphere with his insurgent campaign against House Minority Leader John Boehner.  A West Point grad, Justin is the first opponent of Boehner’s that’s caught my jaded eye.  But despite alot of attention on Ohio and national blogs like DailyKos, he’s raised little money and has only $19k on hand.  That’s acceptable if you’re running for an open Ohio House seat, but not when running for Congress, especially against someone in leadership.

John Boehner probably spent more on golf fees last quarter than his opponent has on hand.

OH-09: This is a race that one particular out-of-state blogger has claimed recent events suggest Marcy Kaptur might be vulnerable.  However, that ignores the fact that for the longest time, conservative bloggers claimed that “Joe The Plumber” could give Kaptur a run for her money.  Joe disagreed and passed.

So they got some guy named Richard Iott to run instead. His campaign finance report is actually political fodder… for Marcy Kaptur’s campaign.

Iott’s campaign came into this last reporting period with a little over $120k on hand.  He raised only $33k.  His campaign spent, however, a whopping $320k.  Although Iott’s campaign reported $270k on hand (technically) it already OWES $623k in debts to the candidate who loaned the campaign $440k this cycle ALONE. (To Kaptur’s over $1 million on hand.)

In other words, Iott’s has virtually no financial support in his district beyond his own checkbook, no money, under water in debt, and facing a Democratic incumbent in a reliably Democratic district with a million dollar warchest.

If you are a printshop or political vendor and get a call from this campaign, DO NOT EXTEND IT ANY CREDIT.  YOU WILL NOT GET PAID.

OH-12: Pat Tiberi has build a reputation as a quiet Republican who shuns the limelight, votes solidly with his party, but avoids being seen as a firebrand conservative because he’s in a district that, on paper, very well could be Democratic.  Tiberi hauled in $486k this cycle and has a whopping $1.9 million on hand.  In other words, he’s not taking the challenge by Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks lightly.  Pat Tiberi has more money on hand than several of the statewide candidates (Fisher, DeWine, Pepper, Yost, Boyce, and O’Shaugnessy.)

Paula Brooks raised over $390k and has $683k on hand.  In any other race, this would be an impressive haul for a challenger running in which the incumbent’s party has the wind to his back.  Still that 3:1 CoH figure isn’t where a Democratic challenger wants to be.  Brooks definitely has enough to run an effective campaign, but she’s going to need some outside help.

OH-13: Congresswoman Betty Sutton’s chances for re-election have always been strongly favored.  However, pundits considered her April fundraising report to be disappointing against potentially self-funded “Cash for Clunkers” (Sutton’s program) car deal Tom Ganley.

However, the race has, at worst, still been rated as only Leaning Democratic. Now, that’s likely to change as Sutton’s fundraising has vastly improved.  Sutton raised nearly three times as much as she raised in the last quarter and has nearly $600k in hand.  That’s more than enough lock up a solidly Democratic district no matter how much Granley, a flawed messenger for the Tea Party movement, can spend in a district that went for Obama at a substantially wider margin than Ohio.

Tom Ganley’s report just came in.  He spent more than he actually raised.  Ganley still claims to have $2.7 million on hand from his massive loan, but it actually owes more than that amount back to Ganley who seems to tap all he’s going to into his campaign.  Like Richard Iott, Ganley seems to have little financial support outside his checkbook and has spending issues.

Outside of Ganley’s money, I’m not seeing evidence of Ganley being a threat to Sutton who represents a pretty solidly Democratic district.  Sutton clearly is not complacent about the race.  She should win.

OH-15:  Steve Stivers is (or was) a bank lobbyist.  Yet, it’s still surprising to see a challenger raise half a million like Stivers reported.  Stivers has $1.2 million on hand against incumbent Mary Jo Kilroy in what should be one of the most watched congressional races in the nation.

Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy raised $230k and has roughly $934k on hand.  It’s roughly a 1:1.28 ratio.  In other words, despite Stivers better numbers, they aren’t so different from Kilroy to amount to an appreciable advantage unlike in Tiberi’s race.

OH-18: Freshman GOP Senator Bob Gibbs barely won the GOP primary to take on Congressman Zach Space.  He raised a respectable nearly $210k and has almost as much on hand.  We’re still waiting to see Space’s report, but he reported during the last cycle to have $1.3 million on hand.  So a 6:1 cash-on-hand advantage should be expected. Space reports raising over $325k, still has over $1.2 million.  6:1 advantage almost always results in victory, especially when its the Democrat who has the advantage.

OH-16:  Congressman Boccieri raised over $272k and has over a million on hand.  His opponent raised more money, but his opponent did that, in part,  by donating $200k to his own campaign.  Even after that generous check, Boccieri still has an approaching 2:1 cash on hand advantage.  Given that Boccieri’s opponent also took money from Murray Energy and had the candidate loan another $185k, and the disparity looks even bigger.  In fact, Boccieri’s opponent has over half as much money in unpaid loans from the candidate than it does cash-on-hand.

There are some clear trends emerging.   The races that the pundits expect to be competitive like Driehaus and Kilroy are still very competitive financially, but there are some real pretenders being advanced as serious challengers  out there that folks have tried to spread around (OH 06, 08, 09, 13 & 18).  Gibbs clearly isn’t closing the gap much with Space with only four months out, which means Gibbs is going to have a hard time running an effective campaign in a district where he is largely unknown.

Johnson is running against Wilson in a district that was drawn to keep Ted Strickland from running for Governor in 2002 (true story.)  He’s doing only slightly better than half as bad as the last “serious” opponent Charlie Wilson faced.  Justin has everything you’d want in a Democratic challenger to John Boehner… but money.  Ganley and Iott’s are only considered factors to the extent that they can self-finance their races, but I don’t know if this is the environment for used cars salesman to try and buy a seat in Congress.

Ganley cannot shake the “Cash for Clunkers” hypocrisy issue because he’s running against Sutton who created it.  Iott has more debt than money, yet is running as a fiscal conservative.

Paula Brooks apparently has Pat Tiberi concerned because he’s built up a fortress of money when he could be funding these lower tier pretenders as contenders instead of holding onto it to hold Paula Brooks off.  In reality, Brooks needs to substantially close the gap and quickly.  Perhaps its because donors don’t believe that this is a year in which a Democrat can defeat a Republican incumbent.  The Kilroy-Stivers race while being in Columbus which is the epicenter of all the statewide races also makes competition for campaign dollars tougher than any other congressional race.  Despite all this, the worst thing I can say about the Brooks campaign is that if they don’t pull it off this year, they’ll be on the short list of rematches to watch come 2012.

So that just leaves the real competitive races: OH-01 and OH-15 and maybe OH-16 (although this race is not nearly as competitive for the GOP as the other two.)  In other words, the very races we all knew would be competitive even before the end of the last election as these were all long-held GOP seats that went Democratic just two years ago.

Three tossup races out of 18, at best.  Two of which have been on the targeted list for the past decade and are nothing more than rematches.  Only one of those where the victor won with less than a 5% margin. That’s hardly evidence of an oncoming wave when the Congressional picture in Ohio doesn’t look much more competitive than it did for the GOP in 2006 except the GOP’s chances in those races are better than they were in 2006.  Maybe the Democratic tide recedes from it’s high water mark two years ago, but that’s not the same thing as saying there’s a GOP tide brewing.

I simply don’t see a brewing surprise on the Congressional map in Ohio.

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