A Super PAC supporting Cincinnati city councilman P.G. Sittenfeld over former governor Ted Strickland for the Democratic nomination to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate netted nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in just over three months.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that New Leadership for Ohio, the Super PAC, raised $733,501 in 2015, its founder announced Tuesday ahead of the required deadline for filing finance reports with the Federal Election Commission. The group was started last fall and has been raising funds to support Sittenfeld’s candidacy for about three and a half months.
"It’s a substantial amount of money," Paul DeMarco, a Cincinnati attorney and Democratic activist who launched the PAC, said. "It demonstrates Ohio Democrats want new leaders with new ideas and not the same old politicians."
DeMarco started the group along with other Ohioans who opposed the way in which the state Democratic Party hastily backed Strickland for the nomination less than two months after he announced his candidacy. The group, operating independently from Sittenfeld’s campaign, intends to spend its money on social media and television advertisements to encourage voters to support the 31-year-old city councilman over Strickland, the 74-year-old former congressman and governor of Ohio.
The Super PAC’s strategist and media consultant told The Hill that the group has spent under 5 percent of the money it has raised.
"We’ll make a case that Ohio Democrats are looking for a candidate who’s willing to stand up to the [National Rifle Association] and it’s not Strickland," DeMarco stated.
He argued that Strickland’s previous opposition to tighter gun regulations, which once earned him an A+ rating from the NRA, did not sit well with Democrats. Strickland recently reversed course, supporting the expansion of background checks and a ban on firearm purchases for people on the terror watch list. His campaign has said that Strickland changed his mind on guns following the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012.
Sittenfeld and Strickland will compete in the March 15 primary, when voters will decide which Democratic will face incumbent Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, for the Senate seat.
Sittenfeld has for months demanded that Strickland debate him ahead of the primary to explain his changed position on gun regulations and give voters a chance to see their differences. Strickland has refused, describing Sittenfeld’s appeals as a distraction.
There is no Super PAC backing Strickland, though he has received plenty of monetary support from Washington, D.C., area lobbyists, lawyers, and consultants. He has also raked in tens of thousands from top bundlers for Hillary Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate and ally of the former Ohio governor.