Butler County Republican raises $200K in bid for Ohio Senate

Pictured are the GOP’s announced Ohio Senate candidates: From left, Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong. PROVIDED
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Pictured are the GOP’s announced Ohio Senate candidates: From left, Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong. PROVIDED

Ohio Rep. George Lang has raised 11 times as much as his two GOP opponents for an Ohio Senate seat combined as early voting in the March primary begins later this month.

Lang’s House colleague, 51st Ohio House Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton — who won’t have a primary or general election opponent — nearly outraised all of the candidates in the 52nd and 53rd House races combined. But she did outspend them all, as well.

In Carruthers’ 2019 annual report, she received $1,135 from eight contributors within the 51st Ohio House District, which includes Fairfield, Hamilton and Ross Twp. She also received $12,600 from seven political action committees, $10,000 of which came from the Cleveland-based Political Education Patterns Political Arm of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Of her PAC donations, two came from non-Ohio organizations: $500 from CVS Health PAC (Washington, D.C.) and $350 from Pfizer PAC (New York City).

Among her $14,630 in spending, $9,830 was used on consulting fees.

Lang, R-West Chester Twp., raised nearly $203,400 — the third most of all Ohio Senate candidates — and spent about half that amount over the last six months of 2019, according to his annual campaign finance report filed on Friday.

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His two primary opponents, Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong, raised $12,135 and $6,300, respectively, over the same period, according to their financial reports.

Lang, Keller and Wong are competing for the 4th Ohio Senate District, which represents most of Butler County. The Senate seat is open as incumbent Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., is ineligible to seek another term due to term limits.

Both Lang and Keller elected to run for Ohio Senate over seeking re-election to their respective House seats. Wong is a four-term West Chester Twp. trustee.

Lang’s largest of his 200-plus contributions came from long-time GOP benefactress and heiress Ginni Ragan, of Columbus. She gave Lang nearly $13,300 at the beginning of January. She contributed to Lang in 2017 and 2018 and has been a GOP financial backer for decades, giving more than $1.5 million to state and federal Republican candidates and organizations since 2010.

Frederick Holzberger, a Fairfield resident who owns Aveda Fredric’s Institute in West Chester Twp., gave $12,500 to Lang. He also previously donated to Lang’s campaign. He received a pair of $10,000 donations from Kevin O’Kane, president of Pennsylvania-based J&K Consultants.

Lang brought forward $35,749 from his semi-annual report filed in July and has more than $136,500 cash on hand.

Keller, who gave her campaign a $90,000 loan last June, received a pair of $1,000 donations, but most of her 130 contributions were at or below $500. More than 90 percent of Keller’s contributions were at or below $100.

Keller spent more than $102,000 on her campaign, $94,250 of which was to repay campaign loans to herself and her husband, Kent Keller, Sr., in the past six months of 2019. Her campaign has $16,700 cash on hand.

Wong’s largest contribution was $500, and 27 of his 42 donations were at or below $100.Wong brought forward $30,100 from his semi-annual report. He’s spent just $4,600 and has $31,800 cash on hand.

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Kathy Wyenandt, who raised $62,150 over the past six months. She has spent $42,000 and has nearly $36,400 cash on hand. She brought forward nearly $16,300 leftover from her 2018 Statehouse bid.

Wyenandt received more than 400 contributions since July 1, ranging from $12,500 from a relative to $2. More than 140 of her contributions were at or below $25. Wyenandt also received $2,500 in October from the campaign of the late former Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, who died last month.

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Voter registration for the March 17 primary election ends on Feb. 18. Early voting begins Feb. 19. Ohio voters can register to vote online.

West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch and retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jennifer Gross are two Republicans seeking to succeed Lang as the 52nd Ohio House District representative. While they have raised thousands of dollars — Welch with $6,350 and Gross with $2,550 — they’re investing their own money as well.

Welch loaned his campaign $15,000, while Gross loaned her campaign more than $41,000.

The winner of the Welch-Gross primary will face Democrat Charles Horn, of West Chester Twp., who has self-funded his campaign thus far with a $5,000 loan. He’s spent $1,360 of his campaign coffers.

In the three-way primary race for the GOP’s 53rd Ohio House District nominee, Madison Twp. Trustee Thomas Hall has outraised and outspent his opponents. Hall raised $4,000 and spent $3,000 while Teresa Diane Mullins raised $3,200 and spent just under $1,300. Hall also gave his campaign a $1,800 loan.

Monroe Board of Education member Brett Guido hasn’t raised or spent any money.

The winner of the primary will face Middletown School Board member and Democrat Michelle Novak, who spent and raised less than $1,000 in the last six months of 2019.