The race for control of government across the United States is continuing this week. Democrats are aiming to turn the U.S. House blue, along with — perhaps — the U.S. Senate, and an array of state governments across the country. Democrats in Ohio now have another figure in their corner — Leslie Wexner, a former Republican and megadonor who has begun, for the first time in years, contributing cash to Democratic campaigns.
After the L Brands CEO announced last month that he could no longer stand with the Republican Party and decided to become a registered independent, he’s given tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats. $10,000 went to the Ohio House Democratic caucus, and another $10,000 went to Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, of Dayton.
His wife Abigail — who had kept up her own stream of donations to Democrats over the years — also donated to both those Democratic interests, giving Strahorn $5,000 and $10,000 to the Ohio House Democratic caucus.
Together, the pair has donated well over $1 million to Ohio candidates just since 2013, but until now, the vast majority of Les Wexner’s money had been going to Republicans.
Now, it’s going to both parties. In addition to the aforementioned checks he wrote for Democrats, he gave $10,000 to Ohio House Speaker Ryan Smith of Bidwell, and $10,000 to both the Ohio Senate and House Republican caucuses.
The Ohio governor’s race likely sits among the state’s most contested at present, with former Barack Obama administration official Richard Cordray running against Republican Mike DeWine, both of whom are running to replace the retiring former Republican U.S. presidential candidate — and prominent Trump critic — John Kasich. Polls have the two candidates neck-and-neck, with the top spot rocketing back and forth between the two of them. An Ipsos poll completed this month had DeWine up by six — and a Suffolk University poll also released this month had Cordray up by six. The polls are rated as similarly credible by FiveThirtyEight.
The tension involving DeWine, Cordray — and Wexner — is but a snapshot of a country in tumult barreling full speed ahead into the midterms.
There’s been plenty of other news involving Republican megadonors, including a report earlier in the year that Florida’s Al Hoffman Jr. — who poured at least $1 million into the 2016 presidential cycle alone — would be cutting off donations to any Republican candidates who refused to support a ban on assault weapons.
Just this week, yet another heinous attack was made possible by assault weapons. A man stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue with a reported AR-15, leaving a number of people dead in what’s been suggested to be the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States. The killer’s weapon was also used in incidents ranging from the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
In other words, the issues weighing on the country ahead of the midterms extend out in all directions and involve people’s very lives. Early voting is already well underway in a number of states and the conclusion to these contentious elections is only getting closer.
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