In Ohio, one race continues

Democratic congressional challenger Mary Jo Kilroy isn't ready to concede, but her chances look slim.

Published November 14, 2006 5:12PM (EST)

Ohio's Mary Jo Kilroy came tantalizingly close to unseating Deborah Pryce -- a member of the Republican Party's leadership in Congress and a theoretically safe incumbent in Ohio's 15th District -- last week. Unofficial tallies show the two separated by just 3,536 votes, or 1.77 percent of the 199,736 total votes cast. So though Pryce has already declared victory, Kilroy isn't ready to give up yet.

Indeed, though the election is now a week old, voters in the district haven't yet gotten a break from political advertising: The Kilroy campaign has been running ads on television and radio asking people who cast a provisional ballot to ensure that their vote is counted, the Columbus Dispatch reports today.

"We are aggressively seeking out provisional voters and informing them of the process and helping them provide the appropriate information so they can get their vote counted," Scott Kozar, Kilroy's campaign manager, tells War Room. He says 9,600 provisional ballots and 10,000 absentee ballots, many centered around the Kilroy stronghold of Columbus, remain to be counted.

"We won Columbus proper with 59 percent of the vote," he says, "so we have valid reasons to believe that we will grow our total in the provisional poll," adding that provisional ballots tend to favor Democrats.

Pryce spokesman George Rasley says the Kilroy campaign hasn't been straightforward about the number of ballots still out there, and that, regardless, Kilroy won't be able to pick up enough votes to pull ahead.

"They're running the Florida playbook," Rasley says, "trying to essentially put a cloud on thousands of volunteers that worked in the precincts on Election Day and the people that are working down at the Board of Elections to count the ballots. There's certainly no evidence that anyone was disadvantaged on Election Day or that legal votes aren't being counted."

A review by the Dispatch shows that Kilroy should gain about 2,000 votes by the time the count is completed; she would need to pull within about 999 votes, or .5 percent of the total, to trigger a recount. Rasley thinks there's little chance of a surprise Kilroy victory. "We're clearly the victor in what's called the initial canvass," he says, "and when all the valid provisional ballots and all the absentee ballots are counted, Deborah Pryce is going to continue to be the victor in this election."

Update: Fixed a typo; the two candidates need to be separated by a margin of .5 percent to trigger a recount, not .05 percent.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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