Brunner gets some tough press in Ohio Senate primary

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has barely raised any money and is running behind Lee Fisher in the Ohio Democratic Senate primary. And now she's getting some bad press, too.

Brunner is enduring a series of hits on her candidacy roughly two weeks before her May 4 primary with Lt. Gov. Fisher.

On Wednesday, the Columbus Post-Dispatch revealed that she had been incorrectly listing employees and their salaries on her campaign finance reports (this is Ohio’s top elections' official we are talking about). And today, an alternative newspaper in Ohio reports that Brunner, in the late 1980s, represented a strip club in a court dispute over its liquor license.

Brunner defended her representation of the Crazy Horse Saloon by saying that its Constitutional rights had been infringed upon. The club was fighting a ballot proposition that effectively took its license away, and Brunner successfully argued that voters didn’t have the right to take away the license.

“I was starting my business at the time, I had three small children to support, and I was working solely on my own,” Brunner told the paper.

Despite Brunner’s justification, the story provides opponents with a ready-made campaign commercial if they need to use it. And the same goes for the FEC disclosure problems.

Fisher is the favorite, especially given that he banked $1.8 million at the end of March, while Brunner banked less than $80,000. But Democratic leaders are hoping he doesn’t have to deplete those funds before he gets to a general election matchup with former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who has $7.6 million in the bank.

Job No. 1 is, of course, winning the primary at all.

Fisher has in recent days focused his public attacks on Portman. But he said on a conference call Wednesday that he is taking Brunner very seriously.

“I think that the primary is very competitive,” he said. “I continue to be focused on the issues that I think are as relevant in the primary as they are in the general election.”