A Little Late But Blue America Welcomes Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH)
Several Blue America candidates didn't get their races decided on election day, either because of how close the tallies were or because of how slow the counting has been. Virgil Goode's stunning defeat by Tom Perriello shocked most Beltway types and this was quickly followed by mixed news from the Northwest, a loss for Darcy Burner in Washington and a win for Oregon Senator-elect Jeff Merkley. It now looks like Mark Begich will win the Alaska Senate seat against GOP felon Ted Stevens. That leaves one still undecided, very close race for us-- Charlie Brown's. However, it isn't the only House race left to be decided, or the only one important to progressives.
A few days ago I was on the phone with Mary Jo Kilroy, the Democratic candidate in Ohio's 15th CD (most of Columbus plus Madison and Union counties) and I couldn't help asking myself how Blue America had missed this race-- twice! In 2006 Mary Jo nearly beat entrenched incumbent Deborah Pryce, missing by only 1,055 votes (out of over 220,000 cast). When the 20,000 provisional votes were counted in '06 she gained 2,400 votes. This year there are 27,000 provisional votes still uncounted, mostly from Franklin County, the Democratic portion of the district.
There's no doubt that this year the recount will determine the winner since only 149 votes separate Mary Jo from Republican banking lobbyist Steve Stivers. Before we meet Mary Jo over at Firedoglake in person, let me do a brief mea culpa. Blue America didn't get involved in this race for two reasons: we thought she had a lock on the race, even though the district has a PVI of R+1, and because the DCCC was so enthusiastic about her we were worried that there had to be something wrong. Two big mistakes. Franklin County (the Columbus part of the district is pretty progressive, and where Mary Jo serves as a County Commissioner) but Madison and Union... deep red. And sometimes the DCCC does get it right-- and this was one of those times, as I found out when I actually spoke with her on the phone.
Mary Jo has been a committed progressive activist her whole life. As a lawyer, she was a strong advocate for first amendment rights and specialized in civil rights and employee rights cases. As a county commissioner, she was in the forefront of fighting for clean energy vehicles and quality contracting standards that made companies treat their workers fairly before they could be eligible for contracts. She told me she wants to fight in Congress to end the war in Iraq, stabilize the economy by returning a strong regulatory environment to Wall Street and provide affordable and accessible healthcare for all Americans.
"I come from a background of being a community activist. I worked my way through college. I was a VISTA volunteer. In the 70's I was involved in the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement, and the anti-poverty movement. As a parent I've been involved in defending public education, which has been under attack from the right. I've been an active environmentalist and continue to be involved in anti-war activities, engaged in the vigils in the period before the war in Iraq, opposed the war in Iraq, think it needs to come to an end. And I've continued to be an activist for civil rights, working with the LBGT community on the school board with LBGT youth and working against hate crimes and being a vocal supporter for the rights of gay marriage in this community."
She went on talking about her activities on behalf of affordable housing and health care, cleaning up central Ohio's environment and working towards greater accessibility for disabled people in public buildings. She singled out Jan Schakowsky and Sherrod Brown as current members of Congress who she has been working with. You'd be hard-pressed to find a candidate more compatible with Blue America's values and goals. Mary Jo is our kind of candidate. ActBlue has set up a special fundraising page for her that is geared specifically for the vote count.
So why is there help needed if all the votes are cast already? Mary Jo:
"We are still in 'Get Out The Vote' mode here. We haven't stopped canvassing, door-knocking, phone-banking. We are driving people to the polls. [Voters who had their ballots disqualified had until yesterday evening to fix whatever problem the Board of Elections was concerned about... ID, proper social security numbers and drivers license numbers, unsigned envelopes, etc.] That means we need to keep our field operation going, keep our phones turned on, keep paying the utilities and rent in the office... all the things you do for the campaign. Plus we have additional expense will legal fees. Our principle is we want to count all the votes and that democracy should be honored. The provisional ballot count can begin today.