Kilroy Holds Early Lead In Race For Pryce Seat

Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D) holds a 10-point lead over Republican state senator Steve Stivers in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), according to her campaign’s internal polling.

The poll shows Kilroy leading Stivers, 47 percent to 37 percent. Kilroy is benefiting from fairly high name identification (78 percent), largely from her closely contested campaign against Pryce last election cycle. She had a net favorability rating of 10 percent — 44 percent of respondents held a favorably opinion of her, while 34 percent viewed her unfavorably.

Kilroy’s favorability rating has rebounded from her political standing in October 2006, when a plurality of voters held an unfavorable opinion of her.

The poll, conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group, surveyed 516 likely district-wide voters from May 20-22.  It has a 4.3 percent margin of error.

Kilroy came within a percentage point of defeating Pryce in 2006, with the advantage of running in a highly favorable Democratic statewide and national environment. She has been a strong fundraiser, banking nearly $1 million in her campaign account at the end of March.

Stivers, who has served for five years in the state Senate, is one of the Republicans’ leading recruits this election cycle. He boasts a compelling biography, serving in Iraq as a lieutenant colonel in the Ohio National Guard. He previously served as vice president of government relations at the now-defunct Bank One.

The district, based in Columbus, is highly competitive at the national level, and President Bush narrowly carried the district in 2004 with 50 percent of the vote. The poll, however, showed Bush’s approval ratings in the district currently at only 35 percent., with 62 percent disapproving of his job performance.