Pryce says Kilroy ad tying her to Foley is 'gaybaiting'
Columbus--Charges of gaybaiting are being tossed around a hotly contested central Ohio congressional race as one candidate tries to connect the other to former Rep. Mark Foley and his page scandal.
Incumbent Deborah Pryce, R-15, accused her Democratic opponent, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, of trying to �gaybait her way to Congress.�
The charge, made in an October 6 news conference, is over a Kilroy radio ad.
The spot starts out saying that House Republicans sent troops into battle without body armor and gave themselves a $30,000 raise �while running up the largest deficit in American history.�
The indignant female announcer then takes most of the ad to discuss �Deborah Pryce�s friend Mark Foley� and his �predatory behavior� with underage pages, criticizing House Speaker Dennis Hastert for �ignoring the Foley problem� and Pryce for �protecting� Hastert.
The one-minute ad accuses Pryce, the fourth highest-ranking Republican in the House, of being �part of the problem in Congress.�
But there is no mention of anything gay.
The ads began running October 7 for one week on Christian radio and Clear Channel talk stations, which tend to be conservative. They cost $5,000.
Pryce considered Foley a friend, and mentioned him as one of her five friends in Congress in Columbus Monthly magazine last month, before Foley�s behavior surfaced.
LGBT Democrats charge that Pryce, who is trailing Kilroy, is tossing the term �gaybaiting� around in order to get traction on a matter that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Pryce�s campaign did not respond by press time to numerous calls to answer how the ad is gaybaiting.
Kilroy spokesperson Amanda Wurst said the charge was surprising.
�The reason why we put it out is that it shows a failure of leadership in Washington,� said Wurst.
Lynn Greer, a lesbian Democratic Party activist, called Pryce�s characterization �outrageous.� Greer lives in Pryce�s district, which includes much of Columbus with rural Union and Madison counties.
�Deborah Pryce is showing no responsibility for how the Foley incident was handled,� said Greer. �This is her desperate attempt to drive a wedge into the public in order to distract from that.�
�Had [Pryce] not used the word �gaybaiting� no one would have paid any attention to her press conference or written anything about the ad,� said Greer, �not the Dispatch, and not the Gay People�s Chronicle.�
Greer said Pryce is trying to create controversy among LGBT voters that otherwise would not be there.
�It�s a close election,� said Greer.
Kilroy has a long relationship with the Columbus area LGBT community, including her distinction as Stonewall Columbus� first non-LGBT ally.
Pryce has not been as anti-gay as the Republican House leadership, and has over the years, voted for LGBT equality and AIDS issues, though inconsistently.
That led to the Human Rights Campaign issuing an unprecedented dual endorsement in August, and criticism of the HRC from the Columbus LGBT community.
Wurst said the Kilroy camp believes their candidate will carry the LGBT vote because of that long history and doesn�t expect Pryce�s new charges to resonate among voters.