Primary costs add up in Ohio Senate race as two Democrats battle

Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) has spent more than $3 million on his Senate primary with Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D), even as he is considered a heavy favorite.

A pre-primary financial report shows Fisher spent nearly $1 million in the first two weeks of April alone — including $900,000 on a cable TV ad buy — and is now down to less than $1 million cash on hand for the stretch run of the May 4 primary. Should he make it to the general election, he would face former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who has $7.6 million in the bank and a clear primary.

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Brunner has been meagerly funded from the start of the race and has spent considerably less — about $800,000. She has not been able to muster any serious media presence, but she has stayed within single digits of Fisher in the polls.

Fisher had $906,000 on hand on April 14, compared to $59,000 for Brunner.

Fisher’s campaign has insisted that it is expecting a close race next Tuesday, but if he doesn’t easily clear the bar against Brunner, questions will be raised about his general-election viability.

His first-quarter fundraising number — $551,000 — has already been criticized, especially in comparison to the $2.3 million raised by Portman.

— A.B.

Arkansas expects record turnout for MAY primary 

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D) may benefit from what’s expected to be record turnout in the Arkansas congressional primaries May 18. 

Secretary of State Charlie Daniels (D) said turnout for next month’s primary vote could be Arkansas’s highest for a non-presidential-year election since 1994.

“I think 30 to 35 [percent of registered voters] is not unreasonable for this election, even though the trend or the stats for previous years haven’t been that great,” Daniels recently told the Arkansas News Bureau. 

Thirty percent of Arkansas’s 1.6 million registered voters would be 480,000 people.

“To me, it seems like an unusual year in that three of the four congressional district races are open; there’s not an incumbency in those. Then you’ve got the U.S. Senate race, where you have a number of candidates on the Republican side, and then the Democratic primary,” he said.

An influx of new voters could benefit Halter, who is not as well-known as two-term incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D). 

The two met on Saturday for their first televised debate. 

During the often-heated exchange, Halter said his campaign has taken down a website referring to Lincoln as “Bailout Blanche” and called on her to stop calling him “Dollar Bill Halter.” Lincoln refused, saying Halter’s business background is a fair target for criticism, according to the Baxter Bulletin. 

The high voter turnout may have little effect on the outcome of the GOP Senate primary, as there are eight candidates running for the Republican nomination.

— S.J.M.

Lowden builds double-digit lead in race to face Reid 

Sue Lowden continues to hold a double-digit lead in the Nevada GOP Senate primary, according to a new poll.

The Nevada News Bureau poll, which was conducted by PMI Inc., is the first in the race not conducted by Mason-Dixon, but it shows a similar result to recent Mason-Dixon polling.

Lowden, the former state GOP chairwoman, leads businessman Danny Tarkanian 41-24. Former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle is in third, at 17 percent. No other names were tested.

A Mason-Dixon poll from earlier this month had Lowden ahead of Tarkanian 45-27, with Angle at 5 percent.

The primary is June 8. The winner will take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

— A.B.

Schumer draws challenger

Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) campaign war chest doesn’t intimidate Republican Jay Townsend. 

The political consultant and Fox News commentator is set to announce his bid to unseat the two-term Democrat on Saturday, according to reports.

He’ll face an uphill battle — Schumer reported having $21.8 million cash on hand at the end of March. He raised $3 million in the first quarter and is consistently one of the top fundraisers in the Senate.

Townsend said he will outline his plans “to reshape New York” during his press conference at Donahue Memorial Park in Cornwall-on-Hudson.

— S.J.M.

Rep. Klein trails in GOP poll

Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) trails top GOP recruit Allen West in a rematch of their 2008 race, according to a poll done for West’s campaign.

The Wilson Research Strategies poll shows West ahead 44-42 despite being known to fewer than half of voters. It was conducted last week on Sunday and Monday.

Klein joins a long line of Democratic incumbents who have trailed in some early polling on their races. Many of the polls have been from GOP sources, but the surveys are still notable, especially when Democrats have shown little polling ammo with which to fight back.

Klein doesn’t have particularly bad numbers — 43 percent favorable, compared to 31 percent unfavorable — but appears to be suffering from a poor environment. Just 21 percent of voters say they will definitely vote to reelect him.

Klein defeated West 55-45 in 2008.

Klein spokeswoman Sarah Rothschild responded by saying: “While Allen West is focused on a poll for the November election, Congressman Ron Klein is working every day to stimulate the economy and on bipartisan solutions that will protect Florida homeowners, crack down on Medicare fraud and impose tougher sanctions on the rogue regime in Iran.”

— A.B.