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Right-Wing Money Pours into Ohio Supporting Anti-Union Ballot Measure

There are elections for statewide officers next week in Mississippi and Kentucky, though aside from the Mississippi personhood amendment that is even giving conservatives second thoughts, they offer little drama. The Louisiana gubernatorial election already completed when Bobby Jindal broke 50% in the primary. There’s also a primary for OR-01, the seat vacated by Democrat David Wu, on November 8, some legislative elections (with control of the state Senate up for grabs in Virginia) and a handful of municipal elections and initiatives.

By far the most consequential elections will come in Ohio, where Issue 2 is on the ballot. If it passes, the anti-union SB 5 will go into effect, and if it fails, a citizen’s veto of the law will be accomplished. Polls have shown Issue 2 going down big, but labor has cautioned that the initiative is difficult to model, and that the margin is closer than it appears. I’m sure they also were preparing for a mass of right-wing money to enter the state in the final days:

Right wing groups are pouring over $2 million into TV ad campaigns in the final few days of the fight, I’m told […] Will Robinson, the media consultant for the labor-backed We Are Ohio, says he got the numbers from the TV stations, and agreed to go on record with them:

• Building a Better Ohio — the leading conservative group in the Ohio battle that is partly bankrolled by private sector interests — has booked a total of $1.8 million in Ohio broadcast and cable time from November 2-8.

• Restoring America — a shadowy group which is reported to have been funded by a single donor during a recent battle in Kentucky — has booked $448,000 in Ohio broadcast and cable time from November 3-8.

• Citizens United, the well-known conservative group, has booked a total of $101,070 in Ohio broadcast and cable time from November 4-8. (A group spokesman confirmed the figure.)

That’s a total of over $2.2 million. Meanwhile, a source close to labor’s We Are Ohio says the pro union forces have booked around $1.8 million in air time, which means they may get outspent by at least half a million in the final stretch. (These numbers are in flux and may not tell the whole story; if I learn more about any spending on either side, I’ll update you.)

That’s right, Citizens United itself is involved in this race. And Building a Better Ohio is the group which co-opted a grandmother’s words from a No on Issue 2 ad to make it look like she supported it.

Of course, this is just the ad side of the equation. Per Andy Kroll, a sea of right-wing mailers are hitting mailboxes this week. The conservative onslaught of advertising is sure to move the numbers a bit.

It’s not entirely clear this will be enough, depending on whether the polls of the past few weeks were correct. But the corporate-conservative complex is definitely going all-out to break the backs of the unions in Ohio, as a signal to continue this march across the country. If labor pulls through, it puts a temporary stop to things, damages John Kasich, and shows that worker’s rights are a salient issue in America.

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David Dayen

David Dayen