In Ohio, Stivers (R) expected to attempt second run at Kilroy

June 16, 2009

Ohio Republicans keen on a big year could soon have another weapon in their arsenal, with former state Sen. Steve Stivers preparing for a rematch with Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D).

Stivers has set a July 4 deadline for himself to make a final decision on the 2010 race, but local and national Republicans expect him to make a second straight run at the seat, and he’s made no secret of his desire to try again.

Former Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), whose retirement led to the open seat race in 2008, said Tuesday that she’s talked to Stivers recently and that she fully expects him to run.

“He wants to, and he’s definitely exploring it and working at it,” Pryce said. “I have every expectation that that will happen.”

Stivers’s entry would be the latest development for a state GOP that has suffered big losses in recent years but feels strongly about its starting lineup for 2010.

The party has already landed a top gubernatorial candidate in former Rep. John Kasich, a top Senate candidate in former Rep. Rob Portman and could soon have former Sen. Mike DeWine running for state attorney general as well.

An Ohio Republican source said it is widely expected that Stivers will enter the race soon.

“I would expect that he does,” the source said. “It’s not even worth looking at other candidates at this point.”

Stivers said he needed to tie up loose ends with his family — his wife is due to have a child in September — but he clearly wants to finish what he started.

“I need to talk to my family and work through some things to make sure I’ve got my family’s support,” Stivers said. “If I do, and I think I do, it’s tempting — very tempting — to want to do it again.”…

“Everything kind of broke against me at the end, with the financial crisis in September and the big turnout on the Ohio State University campus,” he said. “A lot of people came out and voted a straight ticket with Obama and didn’t really even give me an opportunity.”

The argument is similar to the one being made by former Rep. Steve Chabot (R), who will try to reclaim his seat from Rep. Steve Driehaus (D) in the Cincinnati-based 1st district. Black voters there, who represent about a quarter of the district, turned out in greater-than-usual numbers for Obama…

The source also said Kilroy would actually be more concerned about running against state Sen. Jim Hughes, who has reportedly been weighing the race as well.

Hughes, who did not respond to requests for comment, moved from the state House to the state Senate last year, after opting not to run for Congress. In making that decision, he cited family concerns that included a teenage son.

“I don’t want to be away from my family five days a week,” he said at the time.

Among other candidates who would be high on the party’s list, former state Attorney General Jim Petro has already said he will run for the state Supreme Court instead.

Another factor to watch in 2010 will be third-party candidates, who took 9 percent of the vote last year and helped deliver the race to Kilroy.

One was a libertarian, while the other was an anti-abortion-rights independent. Republicans are well-aware that the same thing could happen in 2010, in large part thanks to Stivers’s support for abortion rights.

But whoever else gets in, national Republicans are prepared to fight again with Stivers, whom they continue to hail as one of their top recruits.

“Mary Jo Kilroy and the DCCC will have a big problem on their hands should Steve Stivers decide to get in this race,” said a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Paul Lindsay…

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