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Races for state House seats are priciest so far


SHEFFIELD TWP. — Two races for the state house have already crossed into the six-figure range, according to campaign finance reports that were due Thursday.

Outside spending on behalf of Republicans Dick Stein and state Rep. Nathan Manning of North Ridgeville has cracked $100,000. Most of that money is coming from state Republicans, according to their respective campaign filings.

Manning, who is seeking re-election, has spent $99,567 from his own campaign coffers but has also received $109,317 in in-kind contributions, including spending on media production, printing and postage.

Manning said he’s grateful for the support he’s received from Columbus Republicans.

“I certainly would rather have that than not have it, but I don’t look at those numbers, I’m focused on my grassroots campaign,” he said.

His opponent, Kelly Kraus Mencke, has spent $2,719 from her campaign account and received $2,877 in in-kind spending. She said she’s not surprised she’s being outspent by Manning, especially since she was a late addition to the ballot when Manning’s previous Democratic challenger, Kevin Watkinson, dropped out.

“That made it challenging, but that hasn’t deterred me at all,” Mencke said.

Stein is also benefiting from the generosity of state Republicans, who have kicked in the bulk of the $134,464 that he’s received in in-kind contributions. Stein has also spent $14,813 out of his own campaign accounts.

He fully expects Republicans will spend more on his behalf before the Nov. 8 election. He said his race has been expensive simply because of the size of the district he’s seeking to represent when state Rep. Terry Boose, R-Norwalk, leaves at the end of the year. The district includes part of Lorain County and Huron County.

“It’s variable based on the amount of competition and the market you’re in,” Stein said of Republican support.

Stein’s Democratic opponent, Huron County Commissioner Tom Dunlap, has spent a total of $26,490 out of his campaign war chest, but has only received $10,509 from state Democrats in the form of a salary for his campaign manger.

Dunlap said he didn’t want to take a lot of outside money in his race and is relying more on grassroots campaigning to get his name out to voters.

“I just don’t believe in my core that you need to spend that kind of money,” he said.

State Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, isn’t spending high dollars to defend his seat from Republican Jesse Tower, who hasn’t received much financial support from her state party.

Campaign finance reports show Ramos has spent $24,723 on his race so far and only received $40 of in-kind contributions. Tower has spent $5,303 on her campaign and the $8,369 in in-kind contributions she’s received have largely come from friends and family.

The most expensive county-wide race has been between Commissioner Lori Kokoski, a Democrat, and her Republican challenger, Connie Carr, who is spending more on the race than the incumbent.

Carr’s campaign finance report show she’s spent $27,517 so far on the race compared with the $19,910 that Kokoski has spent.

Carr said she’s not surprised she’s outspending Kokoski, who is seeking her fourth term.

“I have to do more for name recognition than she does,” she said.

Kokoski, however, said she’s spending a lot on the race and will spend more. She still has $22,943 left in her war chest to finish out the final days of the campaign. Carr has $7,937 left.

“It’s the most I’ve spent in a long time,” Kokoski said. “I’m not taking this for granted.”

The two contested judicial races in the county are also expensive.

Former Assistant County Prosecutor Sherry Glass, a Democrat, has spent $24,481 on her general election bid, while her opponent, Republican attorney Krista Marinaro, has spent $15,756.

Lorain lawyer Chris Cook is far outspending his Republican opponent, Will Spiegelberg, who has only spent $989 on his self-funded campaign. Cook, a Democrat, has spent $35,725 on the race so far, but he said he’s not taking chances on Spiegelberg, who managed to unseat sitting Judge Michele Silva Arredondo in the Republican primary in March.

“I am not at all concerned with what my opponent has spent or not spent,” Cook said. “I have treated this campaign from day one with the utmost urgency and seriousness, and I am putting whatever resources that I reasonably can and that I determine necessary to give myself the best chance to win.”

Spiegelberg said he’s spent a little money on campaign literature and radio ads but has mostly relied on going door-to-door to get his name out. He estimated he’s knocked on between 5,000 and 6,000 doors in the county during the campaign.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.

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