Sabato's Crystal Ball

Ohio (15) House 2010


Crystal Ball Outlook: Leans R

Democratic candidate: Mary Jo Kilroy, Incumbent

Republican candidate: Steve Stivers, Veteran and Former State Senator

Recent updates from the Crystal Ball


First-term Democratic Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy occupies a precarious position entering the 2010 midterm elections. Kilroy defeated Republican Steve Stivers by a margin of 2,312 votes (46-45) in an open race in 2008, and Stivers actually led Kilroy before provisional ballots were counted. Simply given this fact, Kilroy is by no means entrenched in her seat

The Ohio 15th District is 85 percent white, but it has a very moderate history, with Republicans and Democrats trading power and popularity over the years. The district gave George Bush 54 percent of the vote in 2000 and 50 percent of the vote in 2004. However, the district went for Barack Obama with 54 percent of the vote in 2008, indicating a district where neither party holds absolute sway. However, Kilroy is the first Democrat since 1982 to represent a Columbus-area House district, and the ultra-slim margin of victory for Kilroy in 2008 indicates that Republicans still hold the allegiances of a considerable portion of the electorate.

2008 Republican nominee Steve Stivers has declared to run against Kilroy for a second time, and Republican David Ryon, a 2008 candidate for the Ohio 12th District seat, has announced his candidacy to run against Stivers in the Republican primary. Ryon has publicly criticized Stiver’s “moderate” position on abortion, and Ryon seeks to make abortion a central issue in the Republican primary. The general election, much like most elections around the country, will turn on issues of government spending and healthcare, among others.

While Stivers has a reason to be hopeful, considering he lost the 2008 election by only the slimmest of margins and Republicans are expected to make gains in 2010, Kilroy has the advantage of incumbency and a fundraising advantage ($349,000 cash-on-hand to Stiver’s $266,000 and Ryon’s $25). Also, Stiver’s faces a primary fight, and Kilroy does not. In the end, this race Leans Republican.