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State News

    5 groups to watch as Election Day nears
    August 28, 2014 01:56 GMT



    Eds: With BC-OH--Midterm Election-Ohio. By JULIE CARR SMYTH AP Statehouse Correspondent

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The final two months of campaigning in Ohio will determine if Republicans continue their four-year control of statewide offices topped by governor, and of both chambers of the state Legislature. Here are five political groups that are seeking to wield their influence:


    Americans for Prosperity, among the top outside spending groups in the nation, is making its influence felt in Ohio from the top of the statewide ticket down to the local level. Backed by the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, the group promotes limited government, lower taxes and the power of the free market. Some 108,000 of its more than 2.3 million members nationwide are in Ohio. It's actively opposed local tax increases in central Ohio's Franklin County and to support the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, and this fall will oppose a proposed tax increase in Upper Arlington, a Columbus suburb.


    Working America is a liberal-leaning 527 organization with ties to the AFL-CIO labor coalition, which claims more than 1 million Ohio members. It recruits non-union workers and raises money to support union worker issues such as paid sick leave or anti-privatization. This election cycle, Working America has deployed paid canvassers across all 50 states to talk one-on-one with workers and families about issues like schools, retirement benefits and well-paying jobs. In the wake of the 2011 collective bargaining battle in Ohio, its state director says dozens of paid professionals are on the ground in the state and an independent expenditure campaign is planned.


    The RGA has spent more than $2.1 million on TV ads promoting Republican Gov. John Kasich over his Democratic challenger, Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald. One ad highlighted news coverage of two of FitzGerald's business relationships and his opposition to releasing keycard data that would show his whereabouts, ending with, "FitzGerald for governor? Sounds risky." The RGA's counterpart -- the Democratic Governors Association -- has not deemed the Kasich-FitzGerald match-up as one to get involved in this year. FitzGerald's campaign recently saw an exodus of top aides after a series of negative reports, including the candidate lacking a permanent driver's license for more than a decade.


    Patriot Majority USA is a liberal 501(c)(4) nonprofit that touts creating jobs and promoting economic development as its "patriotic mission" and typically supports Democratic candidates. State campaign finance filings show the group has spent more than $14,000 on direct mail opposing Republican state Reps. Kristina Roegner and Andy Thompson. Roegner is championing "workplace freedom" right-to-work legislation in the state, and Thompson is a co-sponsor.


    New on the Ohio scene is American Freedom Builders, a nonprofit incorporated in the District of Columbia last year. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United decision, such 501(c)(4)'s are able to raise unlimited corporate or union contributions without disclosing their donors. This group's stated purpose is educating the public on and advocating for "constitutional first principles" of limited government and free market economic solutions. State campaign finance filings show it has donated more than $60,000 this cycle, all to Republican state senators. Similar entities are becoming common for both parties to set up for the benefit of candidates up and down the ticket.

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