Two Democratic Franklin County Commissioners May Cause 15th Congressional District Primary

Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks may join fellow commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy in the 2008 race for Ohio’s 15th Congressional district – the seat now held by Republican Deborah Pryce. Kilroy has already announced she’s running again. If Brooks decides to run, it could force the two into a primary.

County Commissioner Kilroy, a Democrat, narrowly lost last year to incumbent Republican Pryce by a little more than a thousand votes. Now she says she’ll challenge Pryce again in 2008.

“I came within a hair of beating somebody who was in leadership in the Republican majority,” Kilroy says. “And it is apparent to me that Deborah Pryce for all her rhetoric about how she learned her lesson and how she’s going to listen to her constituents has not done that.”

If Commissioner Brooks joins the contest, the Democratic Party would be ‘abundantly rich’ says political analyst and OSU professor Herb Asher because he says both candidates are well known and well qualified. But a primary between Kilroy and Brooks could be divisive, something Asher says Democrats want to avoid.

“Probably the party both locally and nationally will do its best to head off that kind of primary,” Asher says.

That’s where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee might step in. Even though the voices of constituents are important, Brooks says the ultimate determination may be made within party ranks.

“This is like a coaching job,” Brooks says. “When you put together a team you look at what skills and what slots you have for the particular game that is at hand. And this is like going into a tournament and all of those actors are looking to field the best team possible.”

Brooks and Kilroy will be campaigning and fundraising in the months ahead. And, according to Asher, both will present their qualifications to party leaders.

“Despite being outspent quite substantially Mary Jo Kilroy almost won. So they would make the argument that Mary Jo Kilroy has earned another shot at Congresswoman Pryce. Probably the Brooks supporters would argue that 2006 was such a good year for Democrats, Mary Jo Kilroy had her chance then, did not win, therefore let’s turn to Paula Brooks as the candidate.”

State Democratic Party spokesman Randy Borntrager says that whoever the candidate is, he’s confident of Pryce’s defeat.

“Mary Jo Kilroy ran an extraordinary race after being outspent vastly and so I think whoever the candidate is will be able to compile the resources and the support necessary to win this race.”

His counterpart, state Republican Party spokesman John McClelland, says they’ll be ready for whoever emerges.

“We’re happy to let them battle it out on their own. Our focus is Deborah Pryce and helping her run a strong campaign and getting her reelected to Congress next year.”

Kilroy is circulating a fundraising letter touting her position on the issues. Brooks says she’ll host a fundraising event next month.

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