Brian Walsh

Mary Jo Kilroy, one of the most vulnerable freshman Democrats and most loyal Pelosi Puppets, currently represents Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, which includes Union and Madison counties, as well as a large portion of Franklin County. Before Kilroy’s slim victory in 2008, this Columbus-area suburban seat was held by the GOP for decades. In 2008, with Obama on the ticket, Kilroy lost on Election Day, but was boosted by historic turnout in Central Ohio and won by less than one percent following the counting of absentee ballots. Kilroy underperformed Obama by 8 percent, a measure that demonstrates an under-enthusiastic voter base for the Democrat.

Steve Stivers, the GOP challenger facing off against Kilroy, is one of the most impressive candidates in the country. A proven fundraiser and a top-tier Young Guns candidate, Stivers’ victory in the May 4th Ohio primary puts him on the path to retire one of Speaker Pelosi’s most loyal allies.  This race is a rematch from last cycle when Kilroy hung on by the slimmest of margins, despite 2008 being a banner year for Democrats and the district’s Political Voting Index being rated as D+1 by the Cook Political Report.

In 2010, a year so far marked by anti-Washington sentiment and growing voter frustration, Kilroy faces a formidable opponent and a tough fight. The Cook Report currently rates this race as a “toss up.” Stivers outraised Kilroy in the first quarter as well as the preprimary reports, bringing his cash on hand to nearly even with the incumbent and demonstrating the Stivers campaign’s rising momentum.

This year, Kilroy has the added burden of defending her partisan record, which has failed to put Ohioans back to work. This includes her votes for cap-and-trade and the stimulus, as well as her role in passing a healthcare bill that cuts Medicare, raises taxes and hurts Ohio’s economy. Kilroy votes with Speaker Pelosi 98.5 percent of the time. In Pelosi’s Democrat Caucus, the average party loyalty score is 92.3 percent. Kilroy not only votes with Pelosi at almost every turn, but she also votes with the Speaker more often than her colleagues. In addition, political analyst Charlie Cook points out, “Kilroy does not possess particularly strong candidate skills, and even the slightest change in direction of the political winds could change the 2008 result.”

Steve Stivers is back this year with the national landscape in his favor and the state landscape dramatically improved for Republicans since 2008. Stivers was born and raised in Ohio, and served in the state Senate from 2003 to 2008.  A Lieutenant Colonel in the Ohio National Guard, Stivers has served our nation proudly in Iraq and across the Middle East, and he now plans to extend his service to our country in the United States Congress fighting for job creation, lower taxes and responsible government.

Stuart Rothenberg from the Rothenberg Political Report rates this seat as “leans Republican,” highlighting the fact that this is one of the GOP’s best pick up opportunities in the country. According to Rothenberg: “While the Congresswoman’s record certainly will please some, Republicans will be able to paint her votes in an unfavorable light, particularly if unemployment remains high, the economy’s rebound is sluggish, and the deficit balloons… midterm elections tend to bring out voters who are dissatisfied and want to express their displeasure. As of now, that should help Republicans because conservatives are angry and recent polling suggests that independent voters, who behaved liked Democrats for the past two election cycles, are starting to look more like Republicans in their displeasure with Obama.”

Be sure to check out Steve Stivers’ website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter for the latest on this race.


Brian Walsh

Brian Walsh is the Political Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.