Kilroy Was Here

ABC News is calling the 15th District here in Ohio for Republican Steve Stivers over incumbent Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy.  With 92 percent of the precincts reporting, Stivers leads Kilroy, 54 percent to 41 percent.

Kilroy, who was swept in to office with the Obama win in 2008, was a faithful proponent of the “health care reform” legislation and the House Democratic agenda.  She was also one of UJ’s favorites.

This is another race where a post mortem would be instructive.  In 2008, Kilroy won with a 2300-vote margin, but there were many more votes cast in 2008 than in 2010.  In fact, Stivers received fewer votes in 2010 than he did in his losing campaign in 2010.  In view of that, you have to wonder how much of Kilroy’s defeat was due to the “enthusiasm gap” and the lack of turnout by her core constituency.

ABC also has called the race in our district, the 12th, and has concluded that Republican Pat Tiberi will be returned to Congress.

Ohio, The Swing State

As the night progresses, we’ve seen significant swings in the Ohio Governor’s race.  In early returns, Republican John Kasich led, then incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Strickland surged into the lead, and now Kasich has moved into a slight lead.

In Ohio, the issue of where the votes have been counted can be highly significant.  Although Ohio, as a whole, is a swing state, the Buckeye State really is a bunch of enclaves.  When you consider interim statewide results, you must consider whether it is Democratic strongholds that been counted or Republican areas that have been tallied first.

Here in central Ohio, the Stivers-Kilroy case in the 15th District has not been called, although Stivers has a significant lead with more than half of the votes counted.  In our district, the 12th, about a third of the votes have been counted and Republican incumbent Pat Tiberi has a surprisingly small lead over Democratic challenger Paula Brooks.

As of 10:20 p.m. Eastern time, there is still a lot to be decided.

What’s Wrong With Bankers?

As UJ notes in his recent post, Democratic Representative Mary Jo Kilroy always notes that her challenger, Republican Steve Stivers, was a “banking lobbyist.”  I assume that means that focus groups are indicating that “banking lobbyist” has sure-fire negative connotations, like “axe murderer” or “convicted felon.”

Representative Kilroy’s negative harping on Stivers’ service as a “banking lobbyist” is weird because lobbyists, of course, routinely interact with legislators — like Kilroy.  If the notion is that lobbying is some intrinsically corrupt job, it is because the legislative process of which Kilroy is a part is corrupt.  What kind of message is that for a Member of Congress to be sending?

Perhaps the negative element of “banking lobbyist” that Kilroy is emphasizing is not the “lobbyist” part, but the “banking” part.  If so, it’s too bad.  Grampa Neal was a banker, and a pretty successful one at that.  Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Grampa helped steer his bank safely through the Great Depression, made lots of very prudent loan (and no-loan) decisions that helped businesses and families, and presided over the bank’s steady growth over a period of several decades.  If Grampa Neal ever used a lobbyist, I am sure it was done properly and for good reason.  I therefore don’t necessarily associate the phrase “banking lobbyist” with something nefarious.

I guess we will find out in November whether voters in the 15th District think “banking lobbyist” has worse connotations than “incumbent Member of Congress.”

Mary Mary NOT Contrary

 

Mary Jo Kilroy

I read Bob’s blog regarding the race in District 15 and found an interesting article which points out several reasons why Mary Jo Kilroy may likely hold on to her congressional seat.

It’s hard to fault her for voting for what her constituents want and as this article points out a large part of her constituency is young voters at Ohio State and government workers who work in and live in and around Columbus.

While Mary Jo had been in Congress the two biggest pieces of legislation that were passed were the Healthcare Reform Bill and the Financial Reform Act both of which I was in favor of. Mary Jo participated in writing the Financial Reform Act.

The article also mentions the fact that there will be additional candidates that will most likely pull votes from Stivers who has been employed as a banking lobbyist and is a pro-life Republican.

A Bellwether Rematch In The 15th District

One of the more interesting congressional races in the nation is happening in Columbus, in Ohio’s 15th District.  Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy narrowly defeated Republican Steve Stivers in 2008 — she won by 2,311 votes out of 304,000 cast — and the two are squaring off again this year.  If there is going to be an electoral tidal wave that lifts the Republicans to a majority in the House of Representatives, as some are predicting, then Republicans are going to have to win in districts like the 15th. Perhaps for that reason, the contest seems to be getting a fair amount of national attention.

Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy

The conventional wisdom is that the Republican candidate has the edge — although the polling data on the race is limited and pretty dated.  That may in fact be the reality, but I’m not so sure.  The district has changed a lot since my old boss, Republican Chalmers Wylie, routinely won big majorities and coasted to reelection.  The 15th district now includes parts of Columbus, the areas south and west of downtown, the northwest suburbs, Marysville, which is home to The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and Honda of America Mfg., Inc., and various rural areas.  The white-collar suburbs like Upper Arlington and Worthington, reliably Republican in years past, have become much more politically diverse and unpredictable in the past decade.  The areas south and west of downtown, on the other hand, has been very hard hit by the recession.  Who knows how these areas will react to the current economic and political climate?

The race also is interesting because Kilroy doesn’t seem to be running away from her liberal voting record.  As a freshman member of the House, Kilroy was a consistent supporter of the “health care reform” legislation and other key Democratic policy initiatives (for which UJ is thankful).  She always refers to Stivers as a “long-time bank lobbyist.”  Stivers, on the other hand, seems to be staking out more of a centrist position.  For example, he talks about “fixing” the “heatlh care reform” legislation rather than repealing it outright.  He criticizes Kilroy for killing jobs and being out of step with the views of the district.

Steve Stivers

Moving to the center normally is good politics, and the 15th District will be a good test on whether that remains the case in 2010.  In many recent primaries, voters have rejected the more centrist candidates in favor of those who are voicing more pointed positions on the issues.  This may not be an election where voters have an appetite for middle-of-the-road responses to very serious problems.  If that is the national mood, then Kilroy’s two-fisted defense of her liberal voting record (she received a perfect 100% rating from Americans for Democratic Action in 2009) may strike a responsive chord with the electorate.  On the other hand, if the voters are fed up with federal spending that has massively increased the federal debt and legislative initiatives that haven’t made a dent in unemployment, then Kilroy’s defense of her liberal record will effectively be making Stiver’s case for his own election.  Either way, the 15th District will be one of the bellwether contests to watch on Election Night.