- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2007

Influential Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio yesterday said she will not seek re-election next year, citing a desire to spend more time with her daughter Mia and avoid another contentious political campaign season.

“I missed a lot of her growing up,” Mrs. Pryce, 56, said of her daughter Caroline, who died of cancer in 1999. “I don’t what that to happen again.”

The eight-term lawmaker’s decision precedes a similar official announcement expected today from former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, which will conclude a near complete turnover of the Republican leadership team that lost control of the House in 2006.

Mrs. Pryce had been the fourth-ranking Republican in the House as chair of the House Republican Conference until the Democrats’ mid-term election victory.

“From the moment she arrived in Washington, Deborah proved an exceptional leader willing and able to take on the biggest tasks — helping Republicans write the Contract with America, and eventually serving as the chair of the Republican conference,” said Minority Whip Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who survived the party’s post-election leadership changes.

“Throughout it all, she remained a strong advocate for her beliefs, and even stronger advocate for the people of central Ohio.”

Mrs. Pryce’s narrow victory last year by just over 1,000 votes against Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy was the first real challenge she had faced since first coming to Congress more than 14 years ago in 1993.

Mrs. Kilroy, Democrat, has already announced her intentions to challenge for the seat again in 2008.

During her announcement, Mrs. Pryce rebutted Democratic claims that she is “thin-skinned” and didn’t want to face another tough battle. In the 2006 race, sources within Mrs. Pryce’s campaign had told The Washington Times that they expected it to be her last re-election bid.

“I think the ugliness of the election might have played a part in it,” Mrs. Pryce said. “But not the closeness of it.”

Still, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had already begun airing ads in her district, more than a year before next year’s election.

Mary Jo Kilroy will be running as the same person she was in 2006,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Randy Borntrager.

While Mr. Borntrager said Democrats expected Mrs. Kilroy “to win no matter which Republican she was running against,” he did acknowledge Mrs. Pryce’s departure makes the district even more likely to tip in the Democrats’ favor.

Former Attorney General and State Auditor Jim Petro is expected to run in the Republican primary after fellow Republican Steve Stivers, an Iraq War veteran, said yesterday he has no interest in running against Mrs. Kilroy.

Deborah Pryce has been an outstanding member of the Ohio delegation and a key part of our House Republican team for the past 14 years,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, also of Ohio.

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