Elections '06: Ohio's 15th

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Ohio’s 15th congressional district presents one of the top opportunities for Democrats this year. The Columbus-area electorate is thinking about sending its long-term and influential Representative to the sidelines, and filling her position with a relative rookie. With a month to go, polls show first-term county commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy in an even heat with seven-term incumbent Deborah Pryce. If Pryce gets the boot it may not be because she played the game poorly but because she’s on the wrong team.

Republican Pryce, Chair of the Congressional Republican Conference, has been a shoo-in since she took office in 1993; in 2004 she garnered more than 60% of the vote. But now she’s fighting for her political life as Ney’s high crimes, Foley’s indiscretions and Bush’s plummeting approval ratings have turned her Grand Old Party into the elephant in the room. Even the Taft name, once a 24-karat commodity in Ohio, has turned to dross. Pryce is now billing herself as “an independent voice” in an effort to unhitch her wagon from the GOP star before she crashes and burns.

The 15th congressional district may have caught our eye, but it’s a stand-in for the Buckeye State. For generations a Republican stronghold, Ohio has been under single-party control for 16 years, and in 2004 it nailed the lid on Kerry’s presidential coffin. But this year democrats are making inroads in several districts.

What’s happening to a state where putting an “R” next to your name once guaranteed a win? Is a floundering GOP unique to 2006 or does this mark the end of a three-century-old tradition? Are stronger democratic candidates emerging or are they just lucking out?

Joe Hallett

Journalist, Columbia Dispatch

Paul Miller

Journalist and Blogger, Northwestohio.net

Russell Hughlock

Blogger, Buckeye State Blog

Matt Dole

Blogger, Lincoln Logs


Blogger, Ohio 15th District

Extra Credit Reading

David Rogers, Ohio House Race Is Brutal Test, The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2006: “This district doesn’t offer a homogenous landscape, but rather is home to African refugees, a growing Latino community, university students and urban gays, all thrown together with corporate Columbus, upscale suburbs and century-old farmhouses, including one in London where President McKinley once spoke from the front porch.”

James Nash, Battle for Pryce’s seat heats up over link to Foley, The Columbus Dispatch, October 7, 2006: “The race for a central Ohio congressional seat, once fought mainly by surrogates, descended into furious hand-to-hand combat yesterday as challenger Mary Jo Kilroy took to the airwaves to accuse Rep. Deborah Pryce of coddling a former Republican congressman accused of exploiting male pages.”

Dan Horn, Ohio GOP ‘tired out’, The Cincinnati Enquirer, October 8, 2006: “The president was quoted in Bob Woodward’s new book as calling GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell “a nut.” And a new poll showed [Ohio] voters trusted Democrats more than Republicans, not just on the usual stuff – education and the environment – but even taxes.”

Jim VandeHei and Chris Cilizza, GOP Scandals Dog Ohio Candidate, The Washington Post, September 27, 2006: “Gov. Bob Taft? He was convicted of illegally accepting gifts. GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell? He is getting trounced in the polls. Bob Ney, the current congressman? He admitted taking bribes and then checked himself in for alcohol rehabilitation.”

Ari Berman, The Ney Scandal Grows, The Nation, December 15, 2006: “It was the first of many favors Ney would perform on Scanlon’s and Abramoff’s behalf.”

Steve Eder and James Drew, Taft’s ethics inquiry will go to prosecutors, The Toledo Blade, August 12, 2005: “In response to public records requests, the governor’s office last week released documents showing Mr. Taft had accepted about 25 invitations to play golf since taking office in 1999.”

For more, check out the 2006 Election Wiki.

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  • LincolnLogs

    Thanks for looking at the Buckeye State.

    Deborah Pryce is a good representative for Ohio, and I believe she will be successful on election day. While democrats are running “I’m not Republican” campaigns this year throughout Ohio, Pryce has a strong record for the people of central Ohio.

    There are many other races in Ohio that your readers might be interested in –

    The OH-06 along the Ohio River is considered a close race (the district when very narrowly for Bush in ’04 and the seat is open thanks to Congressman Strickland running for Governor).

    The OH-02 around Cincinnati is another race that has generated a lot of coverage since 2005’s special election to replace Rob Portmann ended closer than pundits expected.

    The OH-12 features former Congressman (from long ago) Bob Schmansky running probably the strongest anti-war message in the state against incumbent Republican Pat Tiberi.

    And, of course, all the statewide races are more competitive this year than they have probably been in 12 years.

    There are literally hundreds of posts about many of the races in Ohio at my blog lincolnlogsblog.com

  • peterkoltak

    Deborah Pryce has run an incredibly negative campaign this year. She doesn’t run on her record because her record is that of the last 6 years of the Bush administration. She attacks, attacks, attacks, and if you look at the facts her attacks are almost always completely untrue. She has failed her constituents on the issues–especially Social Secuirty privatization (for it, against it, for it, against, etc.)–and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Dennis Hastert, and Mark Foley.

    She is a consistent vote for Big Oil, drug companies, and the corporate owners of the Republican Party. Her priorities are wrong for the United States, Ohio, and the 15th district. That’s why come this January, Mary Jo Kilroy will be representing the people of the 15th in Congress.

  • jd

    Summary of Pryce’s career, including documentation of her support for indicted GOP Rep. Bob Ney and disgraced GOP Rep. Mark Foley, here:


  • Many in Ohio are running as “independent voices”. I doubt you’ll see an ad this year touting a political party. This midterm is about single party rule and the broken trust Ohians have with the rulers. First they ran away from the disgraced Taft name, then they ran from Noe like so many rats scurrying for cover, now we have Foley. Once one of Deborah Pryce’s 5 best friends in Congress, Deb is now “cutting and running” from her friend in an attempt to hang on to power.

    The real question for Ohio voters will be whether or not they want to continue with a crop of leaders that will protect a predator of children in order to maintain power or elect new leadership. We are left asking: This is the party of morals and family values? It has become almost comical in the state.

    88% voting in support of Bush is not a strong record for the people of central Ohio. No amount of calling yourself an “independent voice” will change that.

    She’s a Debbie Doodle Dandy, that’s for sure:


    I recommend visting our site (shameless plug) at http://www.progressohio.org as well as Buckeye State Blog at http://www.buckeyestateblog.com along with Plunderbund (a blog I started but no longer blog at) at http://www.plunderbund.com.

    Thanks for the focus on Ohio. There is for sure a storm a brewin’. If you are interested in fighting in the storm on the Progressive front, visit ProgressOhio.org and get a MyProgress account!

  • robbins10

    How many leftists does it take to change a light bulb?


    one to change the bulb, two to launch a bombing campaign against the bulb as a symbol of capitalist oppression, and 39 to start a self help group to persuade light bulbs every where that they shouldn’t obey oppressive institutions such as light bulb fittings but should overthrow the electricity dictatorship and form a free society where all electrical appliances can live in non exploitative harmony with their comrades in the class struggle, the calculators.

  • Paul_K

    Ohio’s elections are rigged. Stop talking about foregone conclusions.

  • Todd Hoffman

    Thank you for focusing on Ohio politics tonight. The Ohio Democratic Party is poised for a huge victory in November. Not only are we leading in the polls for most of the statewide races, but also Ohioans simply trust and support Ohio Democrats more than they do Ohio Republicans. The recent Ohio Poll, conducted by the University of Cincinnati, showed that Ohioans trust Democrats more than Republicans, on tax policy, economic policy, government spending, public education, job creation and fighting corruption in the government.

    The Ohio Democratic Party has been working hard to guarantee our success in 2006. This weekend over a thousand volunteers placed over 100,000 phone calls to Ohio citizens. Phone banking and canvassing will continue everyday until the election. In addition, John Kerry was here last week to rally our supporters. Senator Barrack Obama will be in town tomorrow and President Bill Clinton will visit Ohio towards the end of the month.

    This will be a monumental year for Ohio Democrats. This November we will Paint Ohio Blue and Turn Around Ohio.



    Todd Hoffman

    Online Communications Director

    Ohio Democratic Party

  • cestmoiperidot

    That’s so sad that he checked him self in for a alcohol rehabilitation.

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