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Lee Fisher had a bad day.

Yesterday morning, The Hill raised expectations by writing that one of the big questions of the 4th quarter fundraising cycle revolved around Lee Fisher.

Can Trey Grayson and Lee Fisher turn it around?

The two most disappointing third quarters on the Senate map came from Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R) and Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D). Neither raised even $650,000, and both were severely outdone by other candidates. In the fourth quarter, both have a chance to assert that the third quarter was a fluke. […] Fisher is now more than two quarters removed from his own $1 million effort in early 2009, and he could use another one to silence the critics. He benefits from what turned out to be a pretty innocuous primary challenge from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, but former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is raising big general-election bucks.

Ignoring the amusing brush-off of Brunner, this wasn’t the kind of article Fisher wanted to read the day he decided to release his fundraising totals.

Why? Because his fourth quarter clearly didn’t “assert that the third quarter was a fluke”.

Fisher’s campaign reports that it raised $780,000, which is an improvement on its $620,000 third quarter but still isn’t in the $1 million neighborhood, which is where major big-state candidates are generally supposed to be.

That means if Fisher’s campaign didn’t spend anything beyond what they had on hand at the end of the third quarter that he would have $2.38M in the bank. Clearly, that number will be well below $2M, and probably closer to $1.5M when he surrenders his on-hand number.

Portman’s campaign deftly issued a press release that both gave Fisher something to think about and also extended the story cycle to another day.

“Ohio Job Czar Lee Fisher today released fundraising numbers that continue to show his campaign is struggling. While our report is not yet finished, it will show that our campaign once again has very significantly outraised him by improving on our efforts last quarter.”

I guess it takes awhile to count higher than $1.3M.

Portman had $5.1M on hand after the third quarter. With another $1.3M(at least), minus expenditures, Portman should have over $6M on hand as he starts up his 2010 fundraising.

Considering Ganley has yet to show any indication that he’s going to put any serious money into the race, that means Portman will be able to focus those dollars on the general election campaign rather than a primary.

In other words, bad news for Fisher.

Additionally, yesterday brought another bad story for Fisher as he yet again damaged his brand among the grassroots with this doozy of a story from Cincy’s City Beat:

The Hamilton County Democratic Women’s Caucus invited both candidates to participate in a debate Jan. 20 at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley Square. Brunner accepted almost immediately, caucus members say, but their experience with Fisher was far different.

It took weeks for Fisher’s campaign to reply, they say, and when it did, campaign staffers insisted the event not be a debate. Instead, staffers wanted an “informational forum” so the candidates wouldn’t necessarily answer the same questions or be able to reply to each other’s statements.

Later still, Fisher’s campaign contacted the caucus to say the lieutenant governor refused to share the stage with Brunner. The event must be restructured so she and Fisher never appear side-by-side before the audience.

What a mess.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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