A major Cincinnati fundraiser for the Democratic Party has put his backing behind current City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld in his run for the U.S. Senate. Cincinnati businessman Allan Berliant raised as much as $500,000 for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 through his network of donors both here in Cincinnati and around the country. He says many of those donors could chip in for Sittenfeld in his upcoming race.
“I have been very pleased almost to the point of being surprised at the breadth, width and depth and passion of support, both politically and financially, that I’ve seen here in the last three weeks,” Berliant told the Cincinnati Business Courier about Sittenfeld’s campaign. “I’m a fairly seasoned political fundraiser. I will tell you there is a lot of excitement surrounding this campaign and that it is off to a great start.”
Sittenfeld is in full campaign mode. A big-dollar fundraiser for his bid featuring several notable Cincinnati business figures is set for Feb. 24. He’s already hired high-profile Democratic campaign operative Ramsey Reid to manage his campaign. Reid was formerly the campaigns director for Battleground Texas and worked with President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
Sittenfeld has also outlined some policy ideas, including a plan to make college more affordable by allowing students to refinance loans at very low interest rates and to take advantage of one year of federal educational loan forgiveness up to $12,500.
Despite the early head start, the 30-year-old councilman may have a big task ahead, as Democratic favorite and former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has made noises about entering the race for the seat as well. Strickland told the Cincinnati Enquirer Feb. 17 that he was sizing up a run for the seat in 2016.
“I am evaluating whether or not I am the person who is best positioned to do this and to win,” Strickland said. “I think I am, but I’m taking this very seriously.”
Strickland could bring some big fundraising muscle to the race via his close relationship with the Clintons and other powerful national Democrats.
In addition to Strickland, other popular Ohio Democrats could also jump into the race. One seriously considering seeking the Democrats’ nomination until recently was Rep. Tim Ryan, though he announced last week he would not run after all.
Should Sittenfeld best Strickland and other experienced Democrats eying the seat, he’ll have to take on sitting Sen. Rob Portman, who has already raised nearly $6 million ahead of the election. Portman may have a primary battle of his own brewing, however, as some far-right Republicans have expressed discontent with him, especially since Portman came out in support of same-sex marriage after revealing his son is gay.
The seat will be an important one as Democrats look to take back control of the Senate in 2016. Democrats lost nine Senate seats in the 2014 elections to Republicans, who now hold a 54-44 majority there. The party is keen to win back those seats in 2016, when electoral circumstances look to favor Democrats.
Sources say Sittenfeld has raised about $500,000 since he announced his campaign a few weeks ago.