By this point, most people who observe Ohio’s political scene acknowledge that the issue that divides voters this year is economics.
Democrats in the state historically feel safe running on a platform of liberal economic populism, given the strong union presence in the state. Republicans are painting Democrats as irresponsible and judiciously avoiding a pro-Wall Street appearance.
The contrast seems profound in the race where Mary Jo Kilroy, one of the driving forces of the financial-reform package, hopes to retain her seat against a Republican insurgent with ties to the world of big finance.
The Columbus Dispatch reports:
Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, the incumbent in the 15th Congressional District race, has made much of her role in hammering out wide-ranging regulations of the financial industry. In a tax-funded mailer from her office last week headlined “Cleaning Up Wall Street’s Mess,” the Columbus Democrat touts several reforms such as new disclosure requirements on executive compensation and the creation of a consumer-protection agency.
Steve Stivers, the Republican challenger, says voters are more concerned about their jobs and the national debt than arcane financial regulations. Stivers said he would have voted against the financial-reform bill even though he supports some of its provisions.
Analysts say that while the hard-fought race won’t turn on the details of financial reform, the issue is likely to resonate in a central Ohio district that includes several bank headquarters. Stivers worked as a top lobbyist for one of those companies — Banc One Ohio Corp. — before it was absorbed into a larger company. And Kilroy was one of just two House freshmen picked to serve on the panel that ironed out differences between House and Senate versions of the financial regulations.
In a year of Congressional races likely to be dominated by the economic issues, this one may feature two people who actually know what they’re talking about when it comes to financial policy.