Pat DeWine taps his father's donors

Pat DeWine’s hopes of succeeding former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have tanked in recent weeks, but just three weeks ago DeWine was favored among Washington lobbyists, some of whom had been asked by his father, Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), to aid his son.

Pat DeWine, the Hamilton County commissioner, faces 10 other candidates in the GOP primary today. He raised 38 percent of his campaign money from people who had also given to his father, based on Federal Election Commission (FEC) records filed May 25 and analyzed by The Hill.

Patrick G. Ryan
Sen. Mike DeWine has made calls in support of his son’s House bid.


“I made calls. I made finance calls for my son,” Sen. DeWine (R-Ohio) told The Hill, although he did not want to talk about his son’s faltering bid.

In total, Pat DeWine has raised $926,606, which is more than three times the amount of his closest rival, former Rep. Bob McEwen (R-Ohio), who has $283,729 in his campaign fund. But McEwen lent himself $150,000 (DeWine threw in $50,000 of his own money).

Even with the cash advantage, a new poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies shows DeWine in a statistical dead heat with McEwen, who lost his congressional seat in 1992. A poll of 400 Republicans at the end of March showed DeWine leading, 42 to 10 percent.

He has been hurt by his father’s support of a deal to avoid use of the so-called “nuclear option” in the Senate. Moreover, DeWine’s personal life has hung over the campaign. Before the birth of his third son, he divorced his wife and married another woman.

Repeated calls to DeWine’s campaign were not returned.

His father’s efforts were evident at a May fundraiser held in a Capitol Hill brownstone owned by the lobbying firm Williams & Jensen. The event was packed with GOP luminaries and lobbyists, including House Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), former Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) and former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.).

Citigroup, Fannie Mae, PhRMA, Navigators, the Livingston Group, Microsoft, Comcast, Procter & Gamble, Cassidy & Associates and Timmons and Co. wrote checks for the event.

In recent years, several sons who have tried to succeed their fathers have failed, including Scott Armey, son of former Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), and Bradley Smith, son of ex-Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) — whom Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said he would support if the congressman voted to add a prescription-drug benefit to Medicare. Smith voted no, and his son lost in the primary.

But other offspring have found success. When Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R) ran for secretary of state and won, his father, Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) helped raise significant amounts of money for the 2000 race. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) won a close race last year after being criticized for being appointed by her father, former senator-turned-Gov. Frank Murkowski.

That the supporters who funded Mike DeWine’s campaigns would support Pat DeWine is not surprising, said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.

“It seems to be pretty standard. You go to the same people that support your father. It’s a way for the donors to help out the incumbent by helping out their son,” Noble said. “But it doesn’t mean they’re going to be successful.”

There has been an onslaught of fundraising in the waning days of DeWine’s campaign. FEC records show that Jack Valenti, the former head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), kicked in $2,100, and ex-Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.) of Clark & Weinstock gave $1,000.

Major corporate political action committees also gave to DeWine, including Disney, Verizon, Ernst & Young, AT&T, Owens Corning, MBNA and General Electric.

McEwen is not without his supporters in Congress. Reps. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) have contributed money.

The general election to succeed Portman, who quit to become the U.S. trade representative, is scheduled for Aug. 2.