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The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. (Provided via Ohio Department of Development)

Republican candidate for Ohio Statehouse outraises both Democrats

Jay Edwards, local candidate for House District 94, raised significantly more than his two potential Democratic opponents, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

Even if Democrats Sarah Grace and Eddie Smith pooled their campaign contributions for 2016, the amount still would not equal half as much as Republican Jay Edwards has managed to raise before the March 15 primary election.

Edwards raised $26,400 in campaign contributions from the beginning of 2016 through Feb. 24, according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed with the Ohio Secretary of State's office.

Coming in second, Smith has raised $3,240, and with the additional $5,750 he has given personally, his total contributions amount to $8,990. In a close third, Grace has raised $3,175.

“I plan to really kick in the fundraising after winning the primary,” Grace said. “But I felt like I needed to spend time communicating with people and communicating my message before asking for their support.”

Edwards also has a $10,000 personal loan with two smaller loans padding his substantial chunk of change for his campaign, and Grace took out a $1,000 loan last December.

Supported by many local business owners and people who identify as self-employed, Edwards has buoyed himself above the Democrats despite a showdown with the winner of the Democrats’ contested primary being months away in November.

He attributed his success to his business background and his passion for the area.

“Honestly, I really just think it resonates in the message I’m telling people and why I’m running for office,” Edwards said. “I really think that’s what did it.”

The biggest donation came from Edwards’ grandfather, a registered Democrat. Eugene Edwards donated $10,000 to his grandson’s campaign — the largest single donation out of all three candidates.

“My grandfather is one of the hardest-working individuals I know,” Edwards said. “But my whole family are issue-oriented people and don’t care about partisanship.”

Almost half of the contributions Edwards received were from individuals living outside of House District 94, the area he is vying to represent at the Ohio Statehouse, with $5,000 coming from Rhonda James.

James lives in neighboring District 95, in an area of Washington County represented by Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta. Thompson is seeking re-election, and James has also contributed to his campaign to the tune of $10,000 as reported in Thompson’s annual finance report filed with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

“The way I look at it is … If you’re representing part of Washington County, you’re representing all of Washington County,” Edwards said.

Another large monetary gift to Edwards came from someone whose address is listed as a little over 1,000 miles away.

Harlan B. Korenvaes of Dallas, Texas, the CEO, CIO and senior managing director of his eponymous investment management company, donated another $5,000 to Edwards. In October 2015, HBK Investments managed $9.7 billion.

Edwards said he worked with Korenvaes while in medical sales.

“I was actually in Texas face-to-face with him when I walked away from my company and he asked me, ‘Why are you running? What’s your passion?’ ” Edwards said. “I think the messaging, again, resonated with him.”

Other contributions coming from around the state of Ohio totaled almost $2,000 for Edwards.

Grace and Smith’s donations came almost exclusively from individuals living within the district.

“I’ve been very focused on the people who live here and will be invested in the entire process and for whom it makes a direct impact,” Grace said. “I think they’re the ones most likely to care.”

Smith, who did not respond for comment on this article, also had a large majority of his contributions come from within the district he is hoping to represent in Columbus.

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Out of all the contributions received, Smith listed 20 individuals without an address.

Joshua Eck, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, said that was "not necessarily uncommon," but that the office would be reaching out to Smith to update the report as part of the regular auditing of campaign finance reports.


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