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« VA GOP Set To Pick Gilmore | Blog Home Page | Dems Meet In DC Hotel »

Dem Up In OH Open Seat

Having come within 1,100 votes of knocking off incumbent Republican Deborah Pryce in 2006, Democrats had high hopes this year for Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy in a district based in the western suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. A new poll conducted for Kilroy's campaign shows the Democrat leading her opponent by a wide margin, though the race is likely to finish as one of the most closely contested in the country.

The survey, conducted by Benenson Strategy Group for Kilroy's campaign, polled 516 likely voters between 5/20-22 for a margin of error of +/- 4.3%. Kilroy, State Senator Steve Stivers, her likely GOP opponent, and independent candidate Donald Eckhart were tested.

General Election Matchup
Kilroy..................47
Stivers................37
Eckhart.................5

Generic Dem......45
Generic GOPer...37

That Kilroy is ahead is good news for her campaign, but better news is that, in a climate that heavily favors Democratic candidates, she actually runs ahead of the generic Democrat in her district. After a nasty campaign last time around, Kilroy finished the race with upside down favorables; Benenson reports 40% of the district had a favorable impression of her and 43% had an unfavorable view. Now, those views are reset, and 44% see her favorably compared with 34% who view her unfavorably.

Still, it's never good when a candidate starts off a race with 34% of the district viewing her unfavorably. And Stivers is a very strong candidate: Ask most national Republican strategists who their best House recruit is and his name is close to the top.

The race will be expensive for both candidates. Kilroy had already raised north of $1.2 million, through the March 31 filing deadline, and held $944,000 in reserve. Stivers, who jumped in the race considerably later after Pryce announced her retirement, had already banked $788,000 and kept almost $600,000 on hand through the same period. In 2006, Kilroy and Pryce spent a combined $7.4 million on the seat, and it could cost that much again this year.

While President Bush won the seat by a wide eight-point margin in 2000, he managed just a 2,300-vote win in 2004. As the district continues to trend Democratic, it might be difficult for Republicans to hold on, though with Stivers they certainly gave themselves the best shot to do so.