State Sen. Charlie Wilson, who is running for the Democratic nomination in the May 2 primary, has already received more attention from the National Republican Congressional Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee than most House candidates will get all year.
The parties originally thought that their major battle for this southeast Ohio congressional seat - which is being left open by Democrat Ted Strickland, who is running for governor - would come in November. But when Wilson failed to gather the 50 valid petition signatures he needed to appear on the Democratic primary ballot, that set up next month's primary as the key showdown.
Wilson is now running as a write-in candidate.
“It's not every day a candidate cuts his knees out from under himself by not getting on the ballot,” NRCC spokesman Ed Patru said. Republicans are putting pressure on Wilson now to smooth the run for their presumptive nominee, state Rep. Charles Blasdel.
According to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, Democrats spent $160,066 last week on new ads telling primary voters to write in Wilson and defending him from Republican attacks. Despite its policy of not taking sides in primaries, the DCCC includes only Wilson from the 6th District on its roster of candidates, ignoring Bob Carr and John Luchansky, the two men who collected enough signatures to make the ballot.
The DCCC declined to comment on its spending strategy.
According to the most recent federal data available, the DCCC had $16.3 million to spend as Feb. 28, and the NRCC had $20.8 million.
This is not the first time the parties have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars this far out from a general election. But those other races with big price tags for the DCCC and NRCC have all been special elections.