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.
Mary Ann Akers
August 12, 2008; 1:03 PM ET
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