Make no mistake about it.
Rob Portman vs Tom Ganley in 2010 is no Mike DeWine vs William Pierce & David Smith in 2006 or even George Voinovich vs John Mitchel in 2004.
Those races were sitting incumbent US Senators vs extremely poorly funded opponents with little to no name ID.
Tom Ganley is neither poorly funded nor unknown.
I don’t know what the real numbers are on Ganley’s personal wealth, but the numbers I am hearing are in the $400-$500 million range. Now some of you might say that is impossible, but I doubt there are many of you that would look at the empire he has created and would suggest he is worth less than $300 million. For the sake of this blog post I am going to use the nice round figure (my assumption) that Ganley is worth a minimum of $300 million.
NOTE: I am a big Rob Portman fan. I think he offers the GOP the best chance of beating Jennifer Brunner (winner of dem primary if she can put the $ together in the primary) or Lee Fisher (winner of dem primary if Jennifer Lee cannot put the $ together in the primary), but I hope Rob & his staff are taking Ganley seriously.
I’ve heard way too many people say, “There is no way Ganley can beat Portman.”
To that I say “barnacles!”
Do I think Ganley wins? If the election were held today: No.
Do I think he can win? Yes.
Win or lose (and I hope you are paying attention to this most salient point) do I think a well-funded Ganley could do WAY better vs Portman than anyone would imagine and hand Brunner or Fisher a “W” on 11/4/10 vs a wounded Rob Portman? Definitely.
The best thing going for Brunner or Fisher is Ganley.
The best things going for Ganley is he is wealthy, relatively well-known in NE Ohio, does not have a voting record that can be used against him and Portman has a long record that can be used against him (envision the movie “Stuck On You” with George W. Bush & Rob Portman playing the roles originally played by Greg Kinnear & Matt Damon).
The best things going for Portman are that he has (& is in the process of putting) a good political team together, has the establishment in the state and nationally backing him (some would say this is a negative, but I disagree on a # of levels…slate card, volunteers, phone banks, door-to-door, 88 county organizations, “winks & nods” from GOP $ crowd, etc), it does not look (at least up until this point in time) like Ganley has put together a kick-rump political team that can operate at this level (having millions is one thing…spending millions wisely is quite another…I haven’t heard a peep out of his team yet and I’ve heard from just about all the relevant campaign teams statewide) and, finally, to amass that kind of nest egg I would imagine (but am not alleging because I have no knowledge) Mr. Ganley probably had to pinch his nose and wince a few times over the years at certain actions he had to take (who knows when those things might have allegedly occurred if they did at all…1986, 1992, 1999, 2003…maybe further back…the point is that he may have cut some corners at some point in time and my guess is that if the Portman crew has done their due diligence they probably know about any unsubstantiated things in Mr. Ganley’s past).
The following is what should keep the Portman people awake at night:
If Ganley starts spending $1 million a week in February of 2010 that would mean he would end up spending around $15 million of his own money by primary day. You and I know that if he is spending that kind of money in February 2010 he is going to (a) start moving numbers and (b) going to be in a position to start raising dollars from others…anyone who is not “for” Portman will come out of hiding if they think Rob can actually be beaten…this will create even more $$$ than the $15 million Ganley is spending personally. Additionally, if the Ganley people are smart they are also utilizing corporate and charitable dollars wisely via 527s & 501 © 3’s to “educate” & “inform”…these dollars would also be on top of Ganley’s own $15 million.
Now most of you probably think I’m crazy to think that Ganley would spend $15 million, but please keep that figure in perspective.
For 5% of Ganley’s net worth he could probably beat Rob Portman ($15 million of $300 million is 5%).
For our readers who are worth $500,000: Would you be able to come up with $25,000 if I told you I could make you a US Senator?
For our readers who are worth $250,000: Would you be able to come up with $12,500 if I told you I could make you a US Senator?
Kind of puts the $15 million into a scarier perspective for Rob Portman doesn’t it???
If Ganley gets past Portman then Ganley & Charlie Crist would probably end up being the two top US Senate races in the US…not a bad position to be in for a guy who only has to wisely spend 5% of his net worth.