By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer
If money alone decided who gets elected to Cincinnati City Council - and past experience shows it certainly doesn't hurt - Republican Barbara W. Trauth will be taking the oath of office in December.
With a list of campaign contributors that reads like a who's who of Cincinnati's boardrooms, the Hyde Park artist raised $80,065 to lead all challengers for the one open seat on City Council, according to the first round of campaign finance reports filed Monday with the Cincinnati Elections Commission.
Other challengers who will likely have enough money to wage a credible television campaign are Republican Leslie Ghiz ($53,210) and Charterite Christopher Smitherman ($31,160).
Four of the eight incumbents running for re-election are already in six-figure territory, led by Democrat David Pepper. Pepper, the top vote-getter in the 2001 election, has raised $136,913 as of June 30.
To candidates and political insiders, the early numbers help distinguish the serious contenders from the ballot-fillers.
To be sure, campaign fund raising is more important to some candidates than others. Democrats, African-Americans and incumbents have consistently gotten elected with less than $100,000. Republicans and challengers generally need at least that much just to contend.
But 2003 is no ordinary election year. With the mayor's race off the ballot for the first time since 1925 (a charter amendment gave him a four-year term starting in 2001), turnout could be low. New, $1,000 contribution limits are in effect. And Republicans, seizing on what they see as a rich vein of anti-crime sentiment in the electorate, are fielding a full, nine-candidate slate for the first time in a decade - stretching the GOP's donor base.
The soft economy is also making it more difficult for candidates to raise money this year. By this time two years ago, Republican Pat DeWine had already raised $172,912. He's at $104,108 so far this year.
"A lot of businesspeople say - and I have every reason to believe them - that they just don't have the same kind of money," said Democratic incumbent David Crowley, who's also fallen short of his pace in 2001, when he was a relatively unknown challenger. "So they're cutting their contributions in half, or paying it in two or three installments."
No independent candidates filed reports. Also failing to file reports - presumably because they raised no money - were Republicans Sam Malone and Tom Jones, Democrat Samuel O. Britton and Charterite John Schlagetter.
Four candidates top $100,000
Candidates for Cincinnati City Council filed their first campaign finance reports Monday. The total amount raised by each candidate, according to the Cincinnati Elections Commission:
David Pepper (D): $136,913.
Chris Monzel (R): $104,545.
Pat DeWine (R): $104,108.
John Cranley (D): $100,751.
Barbara W. Trauth (R): $80,065.
Leslie Ghiz (R): $53,210.
David Crowley (D): $40,625.
Alicia Reece (D): $36,518.
Christopher Smitherman (C): $31,160.
James R. Tarbell (C): $21,928.
Y. Laketa Cole (D): $19,921.
Peter G. Witte (R): $18,639.
John C. Connelly (R): $16,910.
Nicholas W. Spencer (C): $2,800.
Howard Bond (D): $2,550.
Terry Deters (R): $1,855.
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