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It's Raining Cats and Dogs in Hotly Contested Ohio Race

One of the most high profile House races in the country has literally gone to the dogs. (And the cats.)

Setting a new standard in campaign gimmicks, Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy in Ohio's hotly contested 15th district is touting endorsements from -- get this -- area pets. Her campaign issued a press release Monday that at first blush looked fake. "The Congressional campaign of Mary Jo Kilroy, Franklin County commissioner and candidate for Congress in Ohio's 15th Congressional District, proudly accepted the endorsements of dozens of area cats, dogs and other pets today."

The press release went on to quote Murphy, one of Kilroy's three dogs. "'Everyday thousands of humans are expressing why they are voting for Mary Jo, so we decided it would be a good time to show you why we support her,' barked Murphy, one of Mary Jo's three dogs," her release said. And it included a joint statement from her human campaign spokesman and Ella, the "spokescat" for Pets for Kilroy, about "Mary Jo's deep commitment of working with all sides, Democrats, Republicans and if need be, cats and dogs, to get things done for Central Ohio."

Kilroy, who faces GOP state senator and Iraq war veteran Steve Stivers in November, is targeting that growing subsect of voters known as crazy pet owners -- the dog people and cat people, many of them DINKs (double income, no kids), who attend bark balls and the like and treat their pets as children. Kilroy is one of them.

Her campaign announced the creation of a new Pets for Kilroy Web site that features Kilroy's three dogs -- Murphy, Chase and Dodger. Crazy pet owners (you know who you are) are invited to post photos of their dogs and cats and write why the pooches and kitties support Kilroy and, more importantly, make a contribution to her campaign.

Republicans seem to think Kilroy's campaign stunt, in one of the most important races in the country, is preposterous.

"It appears that Mary Jo Kilroy's popularity is waning to the extent that she has resorted to seeking endorsements from pets," National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain tells the Sleuth. "If these animals could speak to a pollster they would probably tell you that Mary Jo Kilroy isn't qualified to be elected Dog Catcher."

Kilroy came close last cycle to defeating Rep. Deborah Pryce (R), who is retiring. But this year, as Democrats stand to gain a number of GOP-held seats to expand their majority, Kilroy has been struggling to stay ahead of Stivers. So, given how the race is neck and neck (or collar and collar), going to extremes to tug at the heartstrings of pet-loving swing voters may not be as goofy as it looks.

As her campaign spokesman, Brad Bauman, tells us, "Few things are as American as our love for pets, and the Pets for Kilroy site is yet another creative way for the Kilroy campaign to highlight Mary Jo's and her supporters' commitment to Central Ohio priorities."

And somehow trying to distinguish pet lovers from the ever unpopular president, Bauman adds, "Right now, the average family is dealing with President Bush's failed policies that have created the mortgage crisis, high gas prices, increased food prices, skyrocketing college tuition and a general unease and dissatisfaction with the direction of the future. Ohio voters want someone they can trust like Mary Jo."

He may be unpopular, but to be fair, the president obviously loves Barney, his Scottish Terrier, who has his own profile page on the official White House web site. We won't be surprised to see Barney campaigning for Stivers in Ohio in the near future. A photo op with Barney would be safer than one with Bush, after all.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  August 12, 2008; 1:03 PM ET
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Next: Party Time '08 Update: Kayne, Daughtry, Scotch and Cigars


we actually flourish as posters on the WaPo blogs. I will also note there are several "angrycats" making there uhhh... merowwww heard.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | August 12, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

eww!!! primate territory marking! eww!!! stink!stink!stink! must be obedient and keep eyes, ears and tail down and be dull!!!

i don't like being hit on the nose with rolled up wapo!!! i don't like rolled up wapo!! i didn't like wapo when i was little and had to piddle either! wapo is cat paper! no! wapo is squirrel paper!! no!! wapo is stupid dangerous funny smelling car person paper!!!

no tail wag. squeeky bark in rolled up inky smelly piddle paper. eww! service_dog barks!

Posted by: service_dog | August 12, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait for the Hillary loving ugly
rep.Tubbs run again,I will love to see her fall on her tail for supporting the racist clintons,against her own people,shame on you REP.Tubbs!

Posted by: archie | August 12, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Shame on you Archie, for such a disgraceful and racist statement. It seems from reading some posts of people, we really need to do something about improving education in this country.

Posted by: Jason Platt | August 13, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't know much about Ms. Kilroy, but when you are running in a tight race you need ways to get yourself heard or noticed more than your opponet.

The Dog thing may sound stupid, but in Ohio(a state who LOVES it dog's and cats) this can only help. It's funny, and shows the candidate has a good imagination or at least a sense of humor and people will be talking about it for weeks and most comments on the street will be favorable rather than negative.

If you don't think this is a positive for her then you have forgotten 1952 and the Checkers speech. Just talking about his pet made Nixon Vice President and of course President eventually. If a short bit of dog story can make Nixon electable, a whole web site could make Ms. Kilroy leader of the world.

Posted by: Joshua | August 13, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

"the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we're gonna keep it."

Brilliant. For better or worse, this saved Nixon's political career.

Posted by: Jack | August 13, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Democrats think pets are to be loved and treated like members of the family.

Republicans treat pets pretty much the way they treat the poor. Kick them around and step on them every now and then so that they will know "their place."

Posted by: Frank | August 14, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Do you have a problem with pets voting, bigot?

Count ALL the votes, bigot.

Posted by: proud progressive | August 14, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I notice Mary Ann's column never gets tired of Larry Craig's scandal, but has yet to weigh in on the much more politically significant John Edwards case.

Oh, I forgot. Beltway - robotic urban liberalism - media - making the Republicans play on the other team's court in all games. Typical. Depressing that this is how you get ahead in MSM journalism. Enlightening as a small example of reasons for declining influence of same.

Posted by: Mark Richard | August 15, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Mark Richard, you are a racist to suggest that John Edwards is a news story or a scandal. He just has so much love to give one dying woman isn't enough.

Posted by: Tom3 | August 20, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

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