Incumbents raise more than challengers
Incumbent members of the state Legislature from the Mahoning Valley seeking re-election raised more money than their challengers — by a significant amount in most cases.
In the Ohio House 59th District race, state Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, raised $111,092.35 in the pre-general election filing period, loaned his campaign $50,000 and received $142,167.25 in in-kind contributions, including $135,803.25 from the Ohio Republican Party. The pre-general election period is from May 30 to Oct. 14.
Chris Stanley of Canfield, Cutrona’s challenger, raised the third-most amount of money of any legislative candidate in the Valley, but it was significantly less than the incumbent.
Stanley raised $60,308.63 and received $11,143.09 in in-kind contributions including $10,000 from the Ohio Democratic Party, but he paid all but $50 of that back. He also incorrectly filed a report on July 27 that showed he raised $6,882.76 between May 30 and June 30.
The 59th District seat opened after the March 20 death of Republican Don Manning of New Middletown, the incumbent, with the Ohio House Republican Caucus selecting Cutrona from 15 candidates two months later to fill the seat.
On April 27, Manning’s campaign fund was terminated with $56,361.37 going to the Republican caucus.
In a letter applying for the position, Cutrona vowed to put $50,000 of his own money into his campaign fund if appointed. Campaign reports showed he deposited the $50,000 July 1.
Of the $111,092.35 Cutrona raised between May 30 and Oct. 14, $46,292.35 came from the campaign funds of five Republican legislators with $8,750 coming from political action committees.
Cutrona also benefited from $135,803.25 in in-kind contributions from the Ohio Republican Party — which took over the finances of the House Republican Caucus after the indictment of former Speaker Larry Householder on bribery charges. The state party money went toward mail literature, printing and postage for Cutrona’s campaign, according to his report.
During the pre-general election period, Cutrona spent $55,481.62 with $30,000 going to Medium Buying of Columbus to purchase advertising and $10,503.56 to Strategic Sales Solutions LLC of Celebration, Fla., to help connect with voters.
Cutrona had $105,635.75 in his campaign fund as of Oct. 14 compared to $34,816.12 for Stanley.
Stanley, his Democratic challenger, had a solid financial showing in the reporting period, but didn’t come close to what Cutrona collected.
Stanley filed a semi-annual campaign report on July 27 for the period between May 30 and June 30. Only candidates not running in this election needed to file that report.
Combining the semi-annual with the pre-general election report, Stanley raised $67,191.39 between May 30 and Oct. 14 with $34.250 coming from PACs. Also, Bruce Zoldan, CEO of Phantom Fireworks, gave $8,000 to Stanley’s campaign.
During that time period, Stanley spent $40,949.82 with his biggest expenses being $16,000 to R Strategy Group of Cleveland for digital advertising and consulting fees and $9,950 to the Ohio Democratic Party, which had given him $10,000 in an in-kind contribution to pay for mail literature.
58TH HOUSE DISTRICT
In the other Mahoning County legislative race, for the House’s 58th District, incumbent Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, raised $24,985 with $22,200 coming from PACs during the pre-general period compared to $6,800 for David T. Simon of Youngstown, her Republican opponent.
Of the $6,800 Simon raised, $2,500 came from the business he owns: Smart Environmental Engineering Consulting and Construction LLC.
Lepore-Hagan, seeking her fourth two-year term, had $21,665.52 in her campaign fund heading into this reporting period and spent $12,243.86 between May 30 and Oct. 14.
Her biggest expenses were $3,000 to R Strategy Group for consulting and a $2,500 donation – what she received in contributions from FirstEnergy Corp. — to the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods (ACTION).
Lepore-Hagan decided to donate the money — she received $2,000 in 2015 and $500 in 2019 — after Householder and four others were charged in a $60 million federal bribery case related to a $1.3 billion ratepayer bailout of two failing nuclear power plants owned by a former FirstEnergy subsidiary. FirstEnergy hasn’t been charged.
Simon spent $2,327.76 in this period with his biggest expense being $1,145.38 to Sherman Creative Promotions of Youngstown for yard signs.
As of Oct. 14, Lepore-Hagan had $34,406.66 in her account to $4,585.31 for Simon.
63RD HOUSE DISTRICT
The Ohio House 63rd District seat in Trumbull County is the most financially competitive legislative seat in the Valley.
State Rep. Gil Blair, D-Weathersfield, received $46,300.01 in contributions compared to $38,792.35 for Mike Loychik of Cortland, his Republican challenger.
Blair was appointed to the seat by the Ohio House Democratic Caucus in May 2019 to fill the term of Glenn Holmes, who resigned to take an appointment to the Ohio Parole Board.
Blair received $24,700 from PACs as well as $4,000 each from the campaigns of Sean O’Brien and state Rep. Michael J. O’Brien.
Blair’s largest individual contribution, by far, was $10,000 from his brother, Matthew, an attorney in Niles.
He received $1,000 from Bill Siderewicz of Manchester, Mass. Siderewicz’s Clean Energy Future LLC developed two natural gas-fired power plants in Lordstown and was going to build a third billion-dollar plant when the state Legislature approved the $1.3 billion bill to save the two nuclear power plants.
Of the money Loychik raised, an overwhelming majority — $33,292.35 came from the campaign committees of four Republican state legislators.
Loychik also received $7,915.20 from the Ohio Republican Party in in-kind contributions for campaign mail while Blair received $11,555.55 from the Ohio Democratic Party in in-kind contributions for digital advertising and postage though Blair’s campaign fund paid back the $6,000 to the party for the postage.
Blair had virtually depleted his account by Oct. 14, having $1,891.75 left, compared to $37,688.41 for Loychik.
That’s because Blair spent $45,396.13 during the pre-general election filing period compared to $20,636.74 for Loychik.
Blair spent $33,724 with 2 Ticks and the Dog Productions of Warren for advertising.
Loychik’s biggest expense was $10,002 to IHeart Media for radio commercials.