COLUMBUS, Ohio – GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci has launched his sixth digital campaign ad as advisers contemplate when to move the media strategy to television.
Renacci’s latest social media ad continues the campaign’s central theme of state government corruption as it focuses on the September 24 resignation of Dan McCarthy, the legislative affairs director of incumbent Governor Mike DeWine, who also will seek the Republican nomination in the May 3 primary.
The video ad released September 29 features five clips from three Ohio television anchors reporting on the departure of McCarthy, who had served as a FirstEnergy lobbyist prior to joining the newly inaugurated DeWine administration in early 2019.
He also had served as president of the Partners for Progress “dark money” 501 (c)(4) nonprofit that FirstEnergy admitted to U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors it had used to steer contributions to legislators and candidates in return for support of the House Bill 6 legislation. That legislation called for electric ratepayers statewide to bail out two nuclear power plants along Lake Erie.
The ad ends with the written tagline, “MIKE DEWINE’S PAY-FOR-PLAY SCANDAL IS FAR FROM OVER.”
The attack ad marks the latest the campaign has released since the former congressman from Medina announced his candidacy for governor in June.
“It’s been a steady stream of digital advertising,” said Renacci adviser Steven Cheung.
The campaign has yet to launch a television campaign.
“There will be a television component,” Cheung told The Ohio Star, “and we will roll that out in the coming months.”
The ad reinforces the Renacci’s main campaign theme of tying the DeWine administration to the ongoing federal public corruption investigation that included the July 2020 indictment of then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder. Acccording to the indictment, Householder had his own unregistered nonprofit social welfare entity called Generation Now that supported the distribution of campaign funds to legislators and challengers who also had pledged to support his bid for speaker in addition to the legislation.
Neither McCarthy nor anyone else in the DeWine administation has been charged in the probe and both have denied knowledge of the alleged scheme.
That legislation allowed a former FirstEnergy subsidiary that owns the two nuclear power plants to charge electric utility customers inside its Northern Ohio terrirtory and within other Ohio electric utilities’ territory nearly $1.1 billion over seven years to shore up the economic viability of its aging power stations.
However, the company and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in February agreed to halt collection of those special charges, which began in January.
The Ohio Legislature earlier this year rolled back HB 6 provisions related to the Perry and Davis-Besse power plants. DeWine signed the bill in early April.
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Brian R. Ball is a veteran Columbus reporter covering Statehouse news for The Ohio Star and Star News Network. Send him news tips to [email protected]
Photo “Jim Renacci” by Jim Renacci. Background Photo “FirstEnergy” by DangApricot. CC BY-SA 3.0.