Democratic challenger Alaina Shearer is outraising her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson, in one of Ohio’s most flippable congressional seats.
Shearer, a resident of Liberty Township in southern Delaware County and the founder of a marketing firm, generated more than three times as much campaign cash as her Republican opponent between the start of April and the end of June. Balderson brought in just over $62,000 compared to Shearer’s haul of over $204,000.
Despite the large fund-raising lead in the last quarter, Shearer and many of her fellow Democrats challenging entrenched Republican incumbents face their biannual uphill climb to win congressional seats in a state that is gerrymandered in favor of its 12 GOP representatives.
Balderson is still in the lead in the overall money race with over $1.2 million in total receipts in the current two-year election cycle and over 750,000 still on hand. Shearer has raised over $456,000 and currently has about $200,000 on hand.
Central Ohio GOP Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, and Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, were two incumbents who outraised their opponents significantly.
Jordan raised $3.4 million and spent $2.8 million while his opponent, Democrat Shannon Freshour, raised $238,544 and spent $143,997.
Stivers raised $186,270 and spent $287,099 with $1.72 million still in the bank. Democrat Joel Newby raised $6,282 and spent $4,208 with only $2,944 left.
Erin Collins, a spokeswoman for the Balderson campaign, attributed his low totals to the campaign choosing not to pursue donations during the pandemic, saying that doing so would be “tone-deaf”. The congressman’s online donation portal remained open but he didn’t seek or advertise for donations in person or online.
“It really wasn’t the right time to be raising money,” she said.
Collins said focus of the former state lawmaker from Zanesville was doing his job in Washington D.C. by helping to pass such legislation as the Paycheck Protection Program.
Shearer said she only accepted online donations outside of a couple of small events in outdoor spaces where masks were required.
“Fundraising, unfortunately, is a necessity in order to win and campaign finance reform will be a top priority once I’m elected so we can bring power back to the people,” Shearer said.
She criticized Balderson for attending other political events without wearing a mask over the past few months and voting against legislation that would halt evictions and other bills that she said would provide humanitarian relief to citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ohio’s congressional races could easily be decided by the turnout of suburban residents. Ohio’s 12th district stretches into northern Franklin County and draws votes from suburban municipalities such as Westerville.
Balderson brought in nearly $4,000 from six individual donors in Columbus’s suburbs with one maximum $2,800 donations coming from Scott White, the president of IGS Energy, an independent retail natural gas and electric supplier in Dublin.
Shearer brought in over $56,000 from 493 individual donors in the suburbs of Columbus.
One of her largest donations from central Ohio came from Donald Lateiner, a resident of Delaware, Ohio, and a retired humanities professor from Ohio Wesleyan University, of $2,800.
The totals Shearer received in the last quarter aren’t surprising given the competitiveness of the race. But Shearer outraising Balderson in suburban areas in both total donors and total donations is surprising.
The 12th Congressional District contains a large swath of central Ohio, including all of Delaware, Licking and Morrow counties with portions of Franklin, Marion, Muskingum and Richland counties.
Balderson won his seat in a August 2018 special election by less than a percentage point against Democrat Danny O’Connor, although the Republican’s margin was higher in the November 2018 general election. Still, he is considered one of Ohio’s most endangered incumbents.
“Alaina can pop bottles all she wants, fundraising in the heart of a pandemic while Congressman Balderson actually works for the people of central Ohio to deliver the resources they need,” Collins said.
Collins said Balderson’s campaign is re-upping his fundraising now and “is confident economic recovery is on the horizon. So this is the right time.”
Shearer said she is feeling very positive about the upcoming election and her fundraising totals show she has momentum and that voters want change.
“Just like the people of district 12, the Republican Party has given up on Troy Balderson and he knows he will be out of a job on November 3,” Shearer said.
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