BY HOWARD WILKINSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The difference between incumbent Republican Steve Chabot and Democratic challenger Roxanne Qualls -- the contestants in Ohio's 1st District congressional race -- perhaps can be found in the pages of their campaign finance reports.
If a person is known by the company he or she keeps, the quarterly reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission last week make it plain where each candidate is coming from.
For Mr. Chabot, the conservative from Westwood who was swept into office in the GOP landslide of 1994, his largest individual donors are almost all prominent Cincinnati business people who routinely give to Republican candidates; and from business-oriented political action committees (PACs) in Washington, Cincinnati and elsewhere around the country.
For Ms. Qualls, the three-term mayor of Cincinnati who is in her first head-to-head political race, her financial support comes in part from organized labor PACs and the Democratic Party in Ohio. But the bulk of her money comes from a wide variety of individuals -- liberal political activists, people in Cincinnati's arts community and longtime Democratic contributors to her council campaigns.
The money will continue to pour into the 1st District race throughout the summer and into the fall. This race is seen by both national political parties as one of the key races in the country, as Democrats try to regain control of Congress and Republicans try to preserve their majority.
Both candidates, the political experts say, could end up spending close to $1 million. Ms. Qualls, who began her campaign for Congress Feb. 17, listed $124,180 in contributions through March 31, including $18,000 from PACs.
Of the money she has raised so far, $101,180 has come from individual contributors. Sixty-one percent of that money came from individuals who contributed $1,000 or more to the Qualls campaign.
The Qualls' campaign received contributions of $5,000 each from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the American Federation of Teachers.
Her campaign received $5,000 from the Ohio Democratic Party and $1,000 from the campaign committee of U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who helped recruit Ms. Qualls into the race.
Much of the $308,036 the Chabot campaign has in the bank has come from a series of fund-raising events.
On the report filed last week, the Chabot campaign showed $52,090 in PAC contributions, including PAC money from major Cincinnati businesses. The Cincinnati PAC money included contributions from Star Banc Corp. ($1,500), Cinergy Corp.($1,000), Fifth Third Bancorp ($2,000), Procter & Gamble Co. ($1,000) and Union Central Life Insurance Co.($1,500).