TOLEDO - Two of Ohio's first-term Republicans in Congress, including Marietta's Bill Johnson, have built sizable fundraising advantages in what will be the state's most watched House races this fall.
Campaign finance reports filed this week show that Democrats will face an uphill battle in knocking off the freshmen Republicans who have more money and the benefit of being in congressional districts that were redrawn last year.
In the state's most intriguing House race this year, first-term Republican Jim Renacci has $1.2 million in the bank and nearly $450,000 more than U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton even though she did slightly outraise him in the first three months of this year.
Sutton, a third-term Democrat, is challenging Renacci after her district was chopped up in the redistricting process.
The new district wraps around Cleveland, stretching from the cities western suburbs to suburban Akron.
In and Ohio highlighted race, the GOP's Bill Johnson has more than twice as much money in the bank - $869,000 - as Democrat Charlie Wilson in a rematch of their race in Ohio's 6th Congressional District that follows much of the Ohio River.
Wilson, who served two terms in Congress before losing to Johnson in 2010, also has a campaign debt of $416,000.
Both parties have put a high priority on winning the district, which has highly been competitive the past two decades.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner campaigned and raised money with Johnson last month near Youngstown. Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has pledged to put extra resources toward Wilson's campaign, listing his race as one of its best chances to help take back control of Congress.
Two years ago, five Democratic U.S. House members were defeated by Republican challengers across in Ohio, part of a national wave that gave a House majority to the Republican Party. Republicans Steve Stivers and Bob Gibbs were elected to Congress for the first time while Steve Chabot won back his district in Cincinnati.
Now all have huge financial advantages over their opponents, according to the latest campaign finance reports.
Gibbs reported having $615,000 in the bank compared with $208,000 for his opponent, Canton businesswoman Joyce Healy-Abrams.
Stivers and Chabot had even much larger money advantages.
First-time GOP candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe The Plumber, reported he had raised $235,000 so far this election cycle and has $82,000 in the bank for his bid to unseat veteran Democratic U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Nearly all of Wurzelbacher's money has come from small donations.
Kaptur had just over $100,000 in the bank at the end of March because she spent over $1 million in her primary victory over U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich.