Super-PAC backing Ohio Dem Senate candidate raises $700K

A super-PAC supporting Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld's, an  underdog challenger for Ohio's Democratic Senate nomination, has raised more than $700,000, the group announced Tuesday.

New Leadership for Ohio, which backs Sittenfeld's challenge to frontrunner and former Gov. Ted Strickland, closed out the year having raised $733,501 in the three and a half months since its creation. Neil Kammerman, the group's strategist and media consultant, told The Hill it has spent less than 5 percent of the money it's taken in.

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"The substantial amount of money we’ve been able to raise over just the past few months demonstrates that Ohio Democrats want new leaders with new ideas, not the same tired politicians whose willingness — even eagerness — to abandon Democratic values has disappointed Ohio Democrats time and again," Paul De Marco, the group's chairman, said in a statement.

He went on to hit Strickland, as well as Republican incumbent Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHouse passes bill to establish DHS cyber 'first responder' teams House passes bill to establish DHS cyber 'first responder' teams Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump MORE, for what he saw as a lack of commitment to gun control, one of the group's major issues in its early months.

“We’ve recently seen that Rob Portman is so beholden to the NRA he shares their bizarre position that suspected terrorists should be allowed to buy assault weapons in this country," he said.

"Democrats in Ohio won’t be able to make the case that this puts Portman on the fringe if we nominate Ted Strickland, whose close ties to the NRA earned him their highest rating – an A+ — the last time he ran."

New Leadership is one of the few active super-PACs already playing in an inter-party Senate squabble. Its operations have been lean so far, but it released a 15-second web ad last month hitting Sittenfeld's rivals on gun control.

Strickland, is seen as the establishment favorite, winning an endorsement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He previously served in the House before his stint as governor.

But that decision by the DSCC angered some Sittenfeld supporters who see the 31-year-old councilman as an integral piece of the party's future.

So far, polling has skipped over the Democratic primary and gone right to the general election. An Ohio poll by Quinnipiac University in October found Strickland with a slight lead over Portman, while Sittenfeld trailed Portman by 22 percentage points.