Pryce v. Kilroy; Election Day Looms

In what is one of the most talked about US congressional race in the country, the 15th district candidates are counting down the days to the mid-term elections. If Democratic Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy defeats US Congresswoman Deborah Pryce it could possibly change control of the House.

As the fourth ranking person in the GOP leadership, U-S Congresswoman Deborah Pryce has not experienced a tough challenger in her seven terms – until this year. Her democratic opponent, Mary Jo Kilroy, a six year member on the Franklin County Commission, has put Pryce on the defense.

Negative television ads illustrate the competitiveness of the race. The candidates have spent millions of dollars on ads and outside groups have spent millions more.

During their only public debate Pryce said she had no choice but to run negative ads.

“I hate to do it. My mother’s mad at me, but I had no choice. There’s just no way that I can survive this election if I let my opponent do nothing but slam me with untruths and continue to do that without fighting back,” Pryce said.

“Maybe Deborah Pryce should listen to her mother. But, you know, her ads have been negative, grainy pictures, distortions of my record, and personal attacks. I’ve put out a positive ad about my accomplishments at Franklin County,” Kilroy said.

The candidates disagree on a lot of issues. First and foremost is the War in Iraq. Kilroy wants a plan to bring home the troops, while Pryce has a more stay the course approach.

Kilroy said the Bush Administration should make it clear US troops will not be a permanent presence in Iraq. She said it encourages dependency.

“Over 270,000 Iraqi troops have been trained. They should be given that responsibility for taking over the security of their own country,” Kilroy said. Pryce continues to back President Bush’s decisions on the War in Iraq. She opposes setting a time table for troop withdrawals. But she understands Americans have become impatient.

“It’s important that people realize that this country has been safe since 9-11, and we haven’t had terror on our own shores. And much of the reason for that is this is a magnet for terror across the globe. This is where these martyrs go to die. And I’m happy it’s happening far away rather than here,” Pryce said.

Kilroy has tried to link Pryce to Republican scandals in Washington and Columbus. Pryce was part of the GOP leadership team led by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay who left his post because of a lobbying scandal. And if things could not get worse, along came the Mark Foley case. Months before the page scandal broke, Pryce had identified Foley as one of her friends in Congress.

Almost immediately, Kilroy began running ads on conservative radio stations inferring Pryce knew about Foley’s acts with pages.

Pryce told the New York Times her internal poll numbers began to decline after the Foley page scandal. But Pryce is confident voters will see beyond that.

“I have always run a very ethically tight ship in my office. I’m very proud of that. I have a history of being a prosecutor and a judge and those things, I think, I’m not going to get tarnished with the same brush,” Pryce said.

Pryce has tried to portray Kilory as a tax and spend liberal, pointing to Kilroy’s vote to increase the county sales tax. Kilroy touts, as county commissioner, she balanced 14 budgets. Kilroy claims she is not a tax and spend democrat. She said she supports middle class tax cuts.

“I think we should give some tax credits to those families who are struggling to pay the escalating cost of college tuition,” Kilroy said.

Kilroy said Pryce’s tax cuts benefit only the wealthy. But Pryce disagrees.

“I’ve cut taxes for every American, every single one. Our tax relief efforts took five million low income Americans completely off the tax rolls,” Pryce said.

The New York Times said at this point Pryce and Kilroy are neck and neck in the polls. It’s uncertain who will win, but the winner will likely make a big impact on which party controls Congress.