If the polls are right, labor unions stand on the brink of arguably their biggest victory of 2011 if they succeed in repealing Ohio Gov. John Kasich's anti-union bill, known as SB 5. The bill would outlaw strikes, make the state's 350,000 public workers pay more for their pensions and health care, and sharply curb collective bargaining rights.
But Kasich's allies are gritting their teeth and fighting like hell in the final days before the November 8 vote. As Greg Sargent reports, pro-SB 5 groups, led by Building a Better Ohio, are readying a multimillion-dollar ad blitz to defend SB 5.
Sargent breaks down the last-ditch TV barrage:
- 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.
Those figures don't include spending by Mary Cheney's Alliance for America's Future, a shadowy political group based in Virginia that vowed to spend "over seven figures" backing SB 5. Cheney's group has been dumping misleading mailers into Ohio, which I reported on here. Also unmentioned: Make Ohio Great, an outside spending group bankrolled by the Republican Governors Association, and the advocacy groups FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, all of which are pumping money into Ohio to make up for the cash and organizational advantage of We Are Ohio, the labor-backed group trying to repeal Kasich's bill. We Are Ohio has outspent its primary opponent, Building a Better Ohio, by more than a four-to-one margin. BBO's late cash blitz won't really close that spending gap—but it comes at a time when such ads pack the most punch and can reshape opinions before voters head to polls.