Thursday, February 01, 2001

Taft has $1 million war chest

Governor raised funds stumping for legislators

By John McCarthy
The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Gov. Bob Taft, who hit the campaign trail hard last year for legislative candidates and an environmental bond issue, picked up $1.1 million for his own re-election while he was at it, campaign finance reports filed Wednesday showed.

        No Democrat emerged as a challenger to Mr. Taft during the early fund-raising season, according to the reports filed with Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. And Republicans Jim Petro and Joseph Deters raised a combined $1.2 million in 2000 in what could become a spirited race for attorney general.

        The reports were the first that were required to be filed electron ically, and Mr. Blackwell's office had all the candidates' numbers online by the end of the day. Statewide candidates who raised or spent money last year were required to file.

        Mr. Taft has not formally announced a campaign but is expected to seek re-election next year. His total on hand as of Dec. 31 was $1.7 million. His campaign also took in-kind contributions worth $173,078. Those are donated services, such as phone banks and direct-mail campaigns.

        Mr. Taft's campaign also spent $231,981 last year, targeting several GOP legislative candidates and Pat Tiberi's successful congressional campaign in the Columbus area. Mr. Taft also gave more than $10,000 to the Ohio Republican Party.

        Mr. Petro, who cannot seek re-election as auditor because of term limits, raised $720,829 during the year and showed in-kind donations of $35,393. Mr. Petro is expected to run for attorney general.

        Mr. Deters, who raised $516,387 and $106,192 from in-kind donations, can seek one more term as treasurer but has not ruled out a run for attorney general. Neither candidate has officially announced a candidacy for any office.

        Mr. Petro had a total of $1.03 million on hand, while Mr. Deters had $1.13 million at the end of the year.

        Republican Attorney General Betty Montgomery, who is in her final term and likely will run for auditor or Ohio Supreme Court, raised $389,077 and had $874,734 available. Mr. Blackwell, a Republican who can seek re-election, raised $13,645 and had a total of $35,717.

        The Democrats' biggest fund-raiser for governor last year was 1998 candidate Lee Fisher, who raised $55,000 to pay off campaign loans and debts, which now total $166,980.

        Four years ago, Mr. Fisher scared off other Democrats by showing he had raised more than $1 million in 1996.

        Democratic Congressmen Sherrod Brown, Dennis Kucinich and Ted Strickland, who have been mentioned as possible opponents for Mr. Taft, did not have to file reports Wednesday, but their federal campaign reports had to be postmarked by the end of the day. Their reports were not posted on the Federal Elections Commission's Internet site.

        Talk-show host Jerry Springer, a former Democratic mayor of Cincinnati who considered a run for Republican Mike DeWine's U.S. Senate seat, did not file a 2000 report with Mr. Blackwell's office.


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