Central Ohioans are being bombarded with so many special-election ads that it seems like the final week of a presidential campaign in this battleground state.

It’s no illusion.

As President Donald Trump visits Olentangy Orange High School this evening, Aug. 4, the candidate he is touting, Republican Troy Balderson, and the Zanesville state senator’s backers have dropped about $4 million on TV and radio commercials, according to Bob Clegg, a veteran media buyer who is not currently involved in the 12th Congressional District battle.

Democratic Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor and his supporters have hit us with about $3 million worth of spots — virtually all in the Columbus media market.

That essentially equals the amount spent on ads in the stretch run of a competitive presidential or governor’s race in Ohio — in fact, it’s even more than for the 2016 White House battle between Trump and Hillary Clinton, Clegg said.

Balderson also bought 57 spots for $26,750 on WTTE Fox 28 from Wednesday through the special election next Tuesday. The ads are appearing on “Mike and Molly,” “Good Day Columbus” and “Fox News Sunday.” You may see O’Connor missives if you watch CNN, ESPN or the Discovery Channel.

The $7 million in ad spending doesn’t include what’s been spent for all those glossy pieces filling the mailboxes of 12th District voters, nor the phone calls nor the social media effort.

Many district voters are getting text messages, too. For example, the Humane Society Legislative Fund is touting O’Connor, while the America First Action super-PAC is pushing Balderson with the message: “Want to stop illegal immigration? Stop Pelosi from becoming Speaker. Vote for Troy Balderson — President Trump’s endorsed candidate!”

Other texts simply said, “This is President Trump. I’d like to invite you to my rally ...”

Trump’s appearance in Delaware County comes as polls show the race up for grabs, with both sides trying to get voters interested in an unusual later-summer election. Vice President Mike Pence rallied the GOP on Monday in Newark, after a June appearance at a Balderson fundraiser in New Albany. House Speaker Paul Ryan also has raised money for Balderson in a Dublin money event, and the campaign fund he controls is responsible for several of the millions spent in the campaign.

Although the 12th District stretches from Zanesville to Mansfield, the bulk of the voters live in the portion of Franklin County that lies in the district, as well as Licking and Delaware counties.

Read The Columbus Dispatch's full story.

drowland@dispatch.com

@darreldrowland