At the start of the year, neither Democrats nor Republicans expected the special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District to be competitive. As of tonight, they’ll have sunk more than $8 million into the district — all for a term that will begin in September and end when the lame duck Congress goes home and a seat that will be recontested come November.
According to media buyers and party sources, Democratic nominee Danny O’Connor spent $2.4 million on the air, while Republican nominee Troy Balderson spent a bit less than $600,000. The National Republican Congressional Committee spent roughly $1.4 million, either on independent expenditures or in conjunction with Balderson; the DCCC spent roughly half as much. And the Congressional Leadership Fund, a PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, spent $2.7 million on ads and organizing.
At the same time, the Democratic National Committee reported spending $300,000 in Ohio, mostly on organizing the local Democratic Party, as well as $100,000 directly to O’Connor in donations from the DCCC’s email list.
How much different is all of that from the races this district has seen before? In 2016, Rep. Patrick J. Tiberi (R-Ohio) easily won his final term after spending just $1.9 million; Democrat Ed Albertson spent less than $22,000, in a race neither party saw as competitive.