Ohio may be a battleground state but donors in both parties are starting to act more like this year's Senate race there is a sure ting.
According to reports, the Koch network and the Senate Majority PAC are pulling advertisements backing Sen. Rob Portman and former Gov. Ted Strickland, respectively, with just over two months until election day. The two groups are among the top spenders in the state.
The Kochs cancelled a $2.1 million buy which was set to run in late September, while the Senate Majority PAC delayed nearly $200,000 worth of ads set to run in the Columbus and Dayton media markets from Labor Day until Sept. 19. The news comes as Portman has extended his lead over the former governor, holding a 7.5-point lead according to the latest RealClearPolitics average. Overall, the Kochs have spent $10 million in Ohio, with the majority of those ads coming from the Freedom Partners Action Fund.
Throughout the contest, Portman's team has touted his organizational and financial strength, announcing a $15 million ad buy starting in June and lasting through election day. Strickland, on the other hand, went on the air nearly three weeks ago, which Portman's camp panned as a desperation move after the Democrat was initially set to begin running ads after Labor Day.
"Our campaign is confident we'll have the resources we need to communicate Ted's message of fighting for working families and highlight Senator Portman's record of pushing the agenda of the rich and the powerful at the expense of Ohioans who actually work for a living," campaign spokesman David Bergstein told the Hill.
Strickland's team has consistently tried to paint Portman as the consummate D.C. insider, noting his support for past trade deals while also trying to tie him to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. However, the attacks have been unable to move the needle for Strickland, who has seen his favorability rating fall underwater since Portman started his ad blitz.
Recently, Strickland has been on the defensive, particularly over attacks against his tenure as governor and use of the state's rainy day fund. Last week, Strickland released an ad defending his decisions after admitting the attacks from Republicans on the issue had been effective, which mostly came from the Kochs and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Portman's campaign argues that Strickland's record is indefensible, pointing to the Senate Majority PAC's decision to delay their ads.
"After spending $20 million attempting to cover up Ted Strickland's record, even Democrats are resigned to the fact that Ted has the worst record of any Senate candidate in America," Portman spokesperson Michawn Rich told the Washington Examiner in a statement. "No amount of money can hide the fact that when Ted was governor, Ohio lost more than 350,000 jobs and ranked 48th in job creation."