3rd Rail Politics Exclusive

Jim Renacci and His Supporters are In to Win

Allies Form SuperPAC

by Scott Pullins


For months, political observers have puzzled over whether or not Ohio Congressman Jim Renacci, unknown in most of the state, was really serious about running for Governor.  Here’s a newsflash, he is.  But first, as always, some much important background to this story.


There are now four prospective candidates for Ohio Governor in 2018 on the Republican side.  Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, who has already announced.  Secretary of State Jon Husted who has not yet announced.  Attorney General Mike DeWine who hasn’t yet announced.  And finally, U.S. Congressman Jim Renacci who recently announced.


Of these, Mike DeWine and Jon Husted were initially considered the front runners, both because of their high name identification, years in office, and political campaign funds that both exceed $2.5 million.  Mary Taylor has the endorsement of outgoing Governor John Kasich but has the reputation of having lackluster fundraising ability.


And then there is Congressman Jim Renacci. 


Unlike DeWine and Husted, who sit on big political war chests, Renacci is not able to easily transfer the political funds that are now sitting in his congressional campaign fund.  According to his year end report, he had a balance of nearly $625,000 in his account.  His joint victory fund had $47,000 in it and his leadership PAC had approximately $35,000.  But here’s the problem, several years ago Ohio Republicans passed legislation which makes it impossible to convert a congressional campaign fund or political action committee into a state campaign fund.  


So now enter a newly formed federal SuperPAC called Ohio First.  It was formed by Susan E. Jones, of the Winterset CPA Group on March 20, 2017.  Winterset also does the campaign finance filings for the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee, the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, and many others.  The SuperPac even has a brand spanking new website at www.ohiofirst2018.com which prominently discusses the candidacy of Jim Renacci.  The official Jim Renacci for Governor site can be found at www.ohiofirst.com.


Most likely Renacci will pour the nearly $700,000 or more of federal funds into this new SuperPAC.  His allies will then be able to spend these funds independently of his campaign, while raising even more dollars directly from large donors and corporations.  A SuperPAC can raise donations of any amount from either individuals, political action committees, and even corporations.  Meanwhile, the Renacci for Ohio committee is restricted to raising contributions from individuals and political action committees in chunks of $12,707.79 or less.

Jim Renacci and his supporters are clearly in this race to win it.  They’ve made serious moves to spend the political funds he has on hand now, even before he raises additional funds or begins to dip into his personal fortune.