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Ohio Senate challenger from Valley outraises incumbent

State Rep. Mike Loychik raised almost three times as much money in the second half of 2023 as state Sen. Sandra O’Brien, whom he is challenging in the March 19 Republican primary.

Loychik raised $82,599 compared with $29,641 for O’Brien during the final six months of last year, according to annual campaign finance reports filed with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

As of Dec. 31, Loychik, R-Bazetta, had $58,882.39 in his campaign fund compared with $50,274 for O’Brien, R-Lenox. The amount of cash between the two candidates is close because O’Brien came into the second half of the year with a $39,068 surplus.

Loychik opted not to seek a third, two-year term in the 65th Ohio House District and instead is challenging O’Brien in the 32nd Ohio Senate District, which takes in all of Trumbull and Ashtabula counties and most of Geauga County.

Loychik’s largest financial contribution came from the committee of state Sen. Michael Rulli, which gave $12,000 Dec. 12. Rulli, who serves in the Senate with O’Brien, is running for the open 6th Congressional District seat in the March 19 Republican primary.

Of the money Loychik raised in the second half of last year, $67,899.69 came in the final three months. Also, $48,349 of the money he collected in the last six months of 2023 came from the committees of Republican legislators or political action committees.

Loychik spent $23,717 in the last six months of 2023 with his largest expenses being $6,036 to Spencer Federal of Camden, Delaware, for marketing and $5,000 to the Ohio House Republican Alliance, the organization that helps Republicans in state House races. Loychik gave the $5,000 in dues on July 11.

Loychik raised $8,100 in the first half of 2023 — the least amount of any state legislator in the Mahoning Valley.

Loychik’s report for the latter half of 2023 didn’t include the $15,005 he had in his House account as of June 30. He’s supposed to transfer that money to the Senate account.

In comparison, O’Brien, who is seeking her second four-year term, raised $29,641 in the second half of 2023 with $15,145.28 coming from PACs and $11,596 from Mike Gibbons, a Cleveland-area businessman who lost 2018 and 2022 Republican primaries for the U.S. Senate.

O’Brien spent $29,641.28 in the second half of the year with $12,000 going to the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which works to elect Republicans to the Ohio Senate with Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, as its chairman.

O’Brien also has the Ohio Republican Party endorsement in the race against Loychik.

O’Brien raised $34,800 in contributions and spent $4,743 during the first half of the year.

The winner of the Republican primary faces Democrat Michael Shrodek of Warren in the Nov. 5 general election. The district favors Republicans by 10.5% based on partisan voting trends in statewide elections during the past decade.

Shrodek, who got into the race in December, didn’t file a report for the second half of 2023 because he didn’t raise or spend enough money during that time to be required to submit one.

The state Senate committee of Rulli raised $82,150 in the second half of the year with $51,750 coming from PACs. Rulli’s congressional committee raised $167,545.58 in the final three weeks of December.

Besides the $12,000 to Loychik’s campaign, Rulli’s Senate committee’s biggest expenses were $15,000 to the Republican Senate Campaign Committee and $12,000 to William Prescott Whitaker Carey of Granville for campaign services. During the second half of last year, Rulli’s Senate campaign spent $43,112.35.

The Rulli Senate committee ended 2023 with $162,213 in its fund. Rulli cannot transfer that money to his congressional campaign.

HOUSE MEMBERS

State Reps. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, and Nick Santucci, R-Howland, raised nearly $100,000 each in the second half of last year.

Cutrona raised $96,875 from contributions, including $59,400 from PACs, and earned $727 in investment income / interest in the final six months of 2023.

Cutrona spent $54,563.93 during the second half of 2023 with $20,000 to Great Dominion Stout LLC and $6,000 to THZ Strategies LLC, both for consulting fees — no addresses were listed on his campaign finance report for either company — as well as $7,000 to H&F Strategies of Chagrin Falls for advertising and a $5,000 contribution to the Ohio House Republican Alliance, the House party’s fundraising arm.

Cutrona, seeking election to his third two-year term, raised $51,430.06 in the first half of 2023.

Including money carried over from previous filing periods, Cutrona had $177,343.01 in his campaign fund as of Dec. 31.

He will face Democrat Laura Schaeffer, a Beloit councilwoman, in the Nov. 5 general election. Schaeffer, who filed to run for the seat right before the Dec. 20 filing deadline, didn’t file a report for any money raised or spent in 2023.

The 59th Ohio House District favors Republicans by more than 12% based on partisan voting trends in statewide elections during the past decade.

Santucci raised $94,830 in the second half of 2023 with $62,000 coming from PACs or the campaign committees of Republican legislators. The largest amount was $10,000 from Huffman’s committee. Huffman, who cannot run for reelection this year in the state Senate, is instead seeking a seat in the Ohio House and plans to challenge for House speaker next year.

Santucci spent $23,107 in the second half of last year with his largest expense being $13,105 for consulting fees to H&F Strategies.

Santucci raised $106,685 in the first half of 2023 for his second two-year term in the 64th Ohio House District.

With money carried over, Santucci had $182,577 in his fund as of Dec. 31.

He is being challenged in the Nov. 5 election by Democrat Lauren A. Mathews of Warren, who didn’t file a report as she became a candidate in late December.

The district favors Democrats by about 2.5% based on partisan voting trends.

With Loychik challenging O’Brien, the 65th Ohio House District seat is open with Ashtabula County Auditor David Thomas, a Republican from Jefferson, and Laurie Magyar, a Republican from Williamsfield, filing to succeed him. No Democrat filed.

Thomas, who was going to challenge Loychik before the latter opted to seek the state Senate seat, raised $46,755 in the second half of the year. That included $10,000 from the committee that represents sheet metal workers.

He spent $16,747 in the last six months of 2023 with $4,000 going to Alpha Key Digital of Madison for digital advertising.

With money transferred from his Ashtabula auditor campaign account, Thomas had $47,291 in his fund as of Dec. 31.

Magyar didn’t file a report.

The district favors Republicans by 14.5% based on partisan voting trends.

State Rep. Lauren McNally, D-Youngstown, raised $15,160 in the second half of 2023 with $8,250 coming from PACs.

McNally spent $18,563.40 in the second half of the year with her largest expense being $7,500 to the Ohio House Democratic Caucus for dues.

She raised $45,790 in the first half of 2023.

With carryover, McNally had $45,958 in her account as of Dec. 31.

Emily Ciccone of Austintown filed Jan. 8 as a Republican write-in candidate for the 58th Ohio House District seat. Ciccone didn’t file a 2023 report.

The district favors Democrats by 21% based on statewide voting trends.

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