By David Eggert
Joyce Beatty's decision to step down from a high-ranking job at Ohio State University to run for Congress proved golden.
The former Ohio House minority leader from Jefferson Township capitalized on a big opportunity yesterday with her narrow win in the four-candidate Democratic primary for the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District. It encompasses much of Columbus and other parts of Franklin County.
Beatty, 61, is expected to easily defeat the winner of the Republican race, Reynoldsburg City Councilman Chris Long, in November because the House seat is among only four of 16 in Ohio that favors a Democrat. It would mark the first time Ohio has two African-American members of Congress at the same time.
Beatty, OSU's vice president of outreach and engagement until the end of January, defeated former U.S. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy of Columbus, 38 percent to 35 percent, in final, unofficial returns. Columbus City Councilwoman Priscilla Tyson had 15 percent, and state Rep. Ted Celeste of Grandview Heights had 12 percent.
"We started out this campaign saying we would get out there and take our message to all of the people in the district," Beatty said from Sidebar 122, a Downtown bar where she watched the returns with supporters. "We'd run a good campaign and talk about jobs and be that new voice. I think that resonated with people."
The candidates -- all liberals who strongly support President Barack Obama's agenda -- did not differ much on the issues in the truncated race that got under way in December. Instead, they focused on their experience to appeal to Democratic voters.
Beatty and Kilroy raised the most money and ran the most ads.
Beatty, who won the endorsement of Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, cited her track record as an OSU executive, legislative leader, Montgomery County human-services director and owner of a consulting business and Downtown clothing store. She said she knows how to "make a payroll" and could work with businesses and labor unions to bring jobs to central Ohio.
Kilroy pointed to her votes in Congress during the ambitious first half of Obama's term. She said she took pride in supporting the controversial law that expands health-care coverage, the president's economic-stimulus plan and Wall Street reforms in 2009-10. She represented the 15th District, a swing seat she lost after one term to Republican Steve Stivers.
"While tonight is not what I had hoped for, I can't thank my supporters and volunteers enough for your dedication and hard work these past few months," Kilroy, a former Columbus school board member and Franklin County commissioner, said in a statement. "Congratulations to the other candidates for a race well run, and I wish nothing but the best of luck to Joyce Beatty."
Long, 53, beat Upper Arlington businessman John Adams in the GOP primary, 58 percent to 42 percent.
The 3rd District was wrought from the process last year of paring 18 congressional districts to 16 for the rest of this decade as a result of Ohio's population loss. Republicans controlling the process carved out 12 districts that favor their candidates and four favoring Democrats, despite Ohio's historical partisan balance.