Times Reporter

October 19, 2004

Ney far ahead of rival in campaign spending

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON - With two weeks to go until the Nov. 2 election, Rep. Bob Ney has vastly outspent his rival, Brian R. Thomas, campaign finance reports show.

Ney, R-St. Clairsville, spent $182,722 in the three-month period ending Sept. 30, compared to $3,374 for Thomas, a Democrat, according to the Federal Election Commission.

As an incumbent and a House committee chairman, Ney enjoys tremendous money-raising advantages over most challengers. He is seeking a sixth term in the sprawling 18th District.

During the entire reporting period, which began Jan. 1, 2003, Ney has raised more than $1.1 million and spent $860,744 on campaign activities, travel and other allowable expenses, reports show.

Thomas, a machine operator who lives in Scio, has raised $15,528 and spent $14,629 since he began campaigning earlier this year.

Ney reported $248,235 left in his campaign fund on Sept. 30, compared to $1,576 for Thomas.

Ney raised the majority of his funds from special interests. He reported $622,824 in donations from political action committees and $493,739 from individuals. Republican Party committees donated another $2,740 to Ney.

Thomas collected $11,000 from political action committees and $4,528 from individuals.

In addition to the $860,744 he spent on campaign related costs, Ney distributed $220,095 from his campaign fund to other candidates and political party committees, the report said.

Many incumbents, such as Ney, raise large amounts of campaign cash even when they are not faced with a tough re-election opponent.

"It's one way to scare off serious challenges," explained Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "It's very intimidating if you're looking to run against an incumbent and you see they have a million dollars."

Incumbents also can spend their campaign funds on congressionally related travel, or make donations to other candidates or party leaders.

"It's a very efficient way for them to move into leadership positions, increase the likelihood that they get important committee assignments or chairmanships," Noble said.

In the neighboring 16th District, Rep. Ralph Regula has greatly outspent his Democratic rival, Jeff Seemann of Canton.

Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, spent $265,609 during the three-month period ending Sept. 30. Seemann's reports were not available, but by the end of June, he had spent $33,050.