Sodrel almost exclusively funded his campaign with a loan of $725,000, which allowed him to spend more than double the next highest fundraiser, Erin Houchin, a 46-year-old former state senator who was a director regional of Senator Dan Coats. Houchin ran in 2016 – the last time the seat was open – and came second to Hollingsworth with 25% of the vote. She had raised $440,000 and spent $257,000 as of April 13. Stu Barnes-Israel, an Army veteran, was the only other Republican to raise more than six figures in the race, raising $402,000 and spending $184,000.
Sodrel has the backing of far-right group House Freedom Action, which has spent $168,000 supporting him and $42,000 opposing Houchin, including in TV ads attacking her as a “career politician.” “.
Houchin received $448,000 in support from American Dream Federal Action, a PAC launched this spring with a $4 million investment from bitcoin entrepreneur Ryan Salame, who said the PAC would focus more broadly on national and economic security, in addition to cryptocurrency, according to reports. She has the endorsement of E-PAC, the leadership PAC founded by House Republican Conference Speaker Elise Stefanik of New York to support Republican women running for Congress. Barnes-Israel received $890,000 in outside support, most of it from a PAC called Hoosier Values, which ran ads calling Barnes-Israel “battle-tested” and a “conservative outsider.” It is endorsed by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. Both Barnes-Israel and Sodrel were the subject of local news reports questioning whether they really lived in the district after changing addresses on their voter registration shortly before launching their campaigns. This would not disqualify them from running but could open them up to criticism that they do not have strong enough roots in the neighborhood.
Does the expense equal the enthusiasm?
In a few years, Ohio has gone from a real swing state (Democrat Barack Obama won in 2012 with 50.7% of the vote) to a safe red state, an ally of Trump (Trump won with 53% in 2020 he received only 52% in Texas). And the more than 3.1 million votes cast for Trump in 2020 surpassed the old record of 2.9 million cast for Obama in 2008.
But Republicans say privately that despite what has become an extremely expensive Senate race, GOP energy has lagged and they expect voter turnout to be closer to the 17% level set in 2014. As of April 15, early voting was down 27% from 2018 levels, although confusion over districts may be a contributing factor.