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

Sarah Grace outraises Jay Edwards after trailing him prior to primary

Local Democratic candidates far outraised their Republican counterparts in the months following the primary elections, which was a reversal of roles for the two candidates in the race for the 94th House District.

Democratic candidate Sarah Grace received nearly $75,800 between the end of February and Oct. 27, according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed with the Ohio Secretary of State. Republican candidate Jay Edwards received about $48,600.

Before the primary election, Grace had only raised $3,175 in contrast to Edwards' $26,400, according to a previous Post report. His primary donor at that time was his grandfather, Eugene Edwards, a registered Democrat, who donated $10,000.

“We’re really happy to have closed that gap and to have made up that ground,” Nathan Cotton, Grace’s campaign manager, said.

He also noted that Edwards was uncontested in the primary, meaning he did not have to spend money competing directly with other candidates.

“(For Grace) to have raised that much without spending it is really impressive on Sarah’s part,” Cotton said.

Edwards said he expected Grace to overtake him in funding because he "didn't choose to focus on fundraising" after the primary.

"I chose to focus on campaigning," he said. "I wasn't trying to win over some lobbyist in Columbus, I was trying to focus on southeast Ohio the 94th district, and the people of Athens."

The organization that donated the most to Edwards' campaign after the primary elections was the Cleveland branch of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which gave $5,000. He received $1,000 donations from the Ohio Health Care Association PAC, Belief in Life and Liberty PAC and the Ohio Credit Union Legislative Action Committee.

He also received an additional $5,000 donation from his grandfather and a $5,000 donation from Demetrios Prokos, who owns Prokos Rental, 88 E. State. St.

Grace’s highest donation was $12,532 from the Ohio State Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, followed by a $7,500 donation from the the Ohio Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education. In July, the education association also donated $2,500. 

“It speaks to the message she’s been sending out, which is a message of accountability in education, labor reforms (and) speaking about the need to diversify our economy in southeast Ohio," Cotton said. “Our support comes from a wide variety of workers, electricians, mine workers, sheet metal workers.”

In the State Senate race, incumbent Democrat Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, outraised his opponent Frank Hoagland by a wide margin. After the primary, Gentile raised nearly $420,000 to Hoagland's nearly $35,000.

Gentile came into the general election with more on hand as well. He had nearly $415,000 by April, compared to Hoagland’s amount of about $6,400.

Gentile criticized Hoagland for being “bankrolled” by Republicans in Congress.

But Hoagland said Gentile was the candidate being “bankrolled” and accused him of taking many of his contributions from state and federal lobbyists.

“Lou’s been a professional politician for most of his career, so he’s had a lot of time to fill his campaign coffers with special interest money,” Hoagland said in an email. “I’m ok being the underdog in this race because it means I can put our families and communities first rather than doing the bidding of contributors in Columbus and Washington.”

Gentile's largest contributions came from the national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in Washington D.C., the Ohio State Association of Plumbers, the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 495 in Cambridge and the Columbus office of Service Employees International Union, each of which donated about $12,500.

“We have a really broad base of support,” Gentile said. “It includes hundreds of contributions from individuals all around the district. … Really a broad range of people who believe in the work we’re doing and people who believe in working families.”

Steubenville resident Martin Phillips donated $4,500 total to Hoagland's campaign, more than any individual contributor. Some of Hoagland’s other highest donations came from Ohioans for Concealed Carry PAC and Ohio Coal, which each donated $2,000. None of Hoagland’s general election contributions came from Athens residents.

Hoagland has made few public appearances in Athens since the start of his campaign.

“This is a big senate district, covering 10 counties all up and down the river,” he said in an email. "Every part of it is equally important, and we’re getting support from people everywhere because they believe in our campaign. I’m working hard to earn the support of every voter in every community, while Lou is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from special interest groups in Columbus and Washington.”

—Lauren Fisher contributed to this report.


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