By Malia Rulon
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - In a battle over the control of the U.S. House, Republicans are throwing thousands of dollars into races for two open Ohio seats long held by Democrats, campaign finance reports filed this week show.
State Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin, a Republican from Aurora running for a northeast Ohio seat, brought in the most from national party sources in the first few weeks of this month. She got $71,000 from the Republican National Committee for a television commercial, bringing her total collection this month to $101,000.
Her Democratic opponent, state Sen. Tim Ryan of Niles brought in less from Washington Democrats - $17,500 for a total of $53,000.
Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show campaign donations and spending in the Oct. 1-16 reporting period. The reports are the last complete breakdown of spending released until after the Nov. 5 election.
They show Republicans, who now control the House with 223 members compared with 210 Democrats and two independents, are gunning for the open seats in the 17th District in northeast Ohio and the 3rd District in western Ohio.
The seats were left open by the expulsion in July of convicted Democratic Rep. James A. Traficant and resignation of 12-term Democratic Rep. Tony Hall, who left in September to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for food and agriculture agencies.
In the 17th District, Ms. Womer Benjamin and Mr. Ryan reported spending roughly the same amount of money - between $107,000 and $115,000.
Mr. Traficant also is running in the race as an independent and from a Pennsylvania prison. He reported raising $8,500, mostly from small individual contributions.
In the 3rd District, former Dayton Mayor Mike Turner, a Republican, raised more than his opponent, Democrat Rick Carne, during the reporting period. Mr. Turner brought in $99,000, about half of which came from political and industry groups.
The rest came from individual donors, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican from Illinois, and GOP Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Republican from Texas.
Mr. Carne, Mr. Hall's former chief of staff, raised $53,000, much of which came from longtime congressional Democrats from California..
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