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Deborah Pryce

Representative Deborah Pryce

Served in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1993-2009

Born: 1951 in Warren, Ohio

Education: B.A., Ohio State University, 1973; J.D., Capital University, 1976

Prior Experience: Franklin County Municipal Court Judge from 1986-1992; administrative law judge for the Ohio State Department of Insurance from 1976-1978; assistant city prosecutor and senior assistant city attorney for the Columbus City Attorney's Office from 1978-1985

Age When First Elected to the U.S. House: 41

Length of Service: 8 terms

How She Entered the U.S. House: Ran in 1992 for open seat

How She Exited the U.S. House: Decided not to seek reelection in 2008

Party: Republican

  • Representative Pryce running for Franklin County Municipal Court

    Representative Pryce on the campaign trail in 1992. Photo: Ohio Congressional Archives.

  • Representative Pryce

    Representative Pryce (at microphone) and 8 other Congresswomen share their findings after a trip to Iraq at a Pentagon briefing, 2003. Photo: Department of Defense.

  • Representative Pryce on the House Floor

    Photo: Ohio Congressional Archives.

  • Representative Pryce throws out the first pitch at Jacobs Field

    Photo: Ohio Congressional Archives.

  • Representative Pryce with her adoptive daughter, Mia

    Representative Pryce with her adopted daughter, Mia. Photo: Ohio Congressional Archives.

  • Pryce running for Franklin County Municipal Court

    Pryce on the campaign trail in 1985 running for Franklin County Municipal Court. Photo: Ohio Congressional Archives.

  • Representative Pryce with President George W. Bush

    Photo: Ohio Congressional Archives.

  • Representative Pryce

    Photo: Ohio Congressional Archives.

  • O-H-I-O

    Photo: Ohio Congressional Archives.

  • Representative Pryce

    Pryce's first congressional campaign in 1992, at a rally for President Bush with Ohio Governor George Voinovich, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Photo: Ohio Congressional Archives.


In her first campaign for Congress, Deborah Pryce won an unusual 3-way race for an open House seat in 1992. In addition to facing Democrat Richard Cordray, because of Pryce's moderate pro-choice position, pro-life activists put up their own independent candidate, Linda Reidelbach, who received a surprising 18% of the vote.

Running in what became known as "The Year of the Woman," Pryce campaigned as "just a regular person… who happens to be a woman, who used to be a judge, who has a family and life experience." Pryce explained, "I want to be looked at as a whole, complete candidate and not just as a woman who happens to be running." However, as a mother of a 2-year-old daughter, she had to face questions that male candidates rarely had to answer: "A couple of people have asked me how I could leave my little girl to go to Washington…My answer is I have a loving and supportive husband who adores her. It might not be a traditional family like Ozzie and Harriet depicts, but we have a lot of love…Women have always had to juggle more than men no matter what they do" (Farkas & Lane).

Beginning in her first term, Pryce served in the Republican House leadership and was elected Republican Freshman Class President. By 1996, she was Deputy Majority Whip. In 2002, Pryce became the Republican Conference Chair, making her the fourth highest ranking Republican, and the highest ranking Republican woman in congressional history.

After her first election, Pryce's seat was considered safe -- until 2006. In that election cycle, Pryce narrowly defeated Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy after a recount by only 1055 votes out of over 220,000 votes cast. In 2008, facing another competitive race against Kilroy, Pryce decided not to run again, explaining that she wanted to be able to spend more time with her daughter Mia, who she adopted as a single mom at the age of 50. However, Pryce also talked of her disgust with the cost of campaigning and the necessity of "going negative." In 2006, when the average House incumbent raised $1.4 million, she spent $4.7 million, much of it on attack ads. As she explained, "It was obscene the amount of money I had to spend" (Hulse; Auster).

In 2016, Pryce served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Ohio's 15th District

Deborah Pryce, a Republican, represented Ohio's 15th district. When she was first elected in 1992, the district covered most of Columbus and extended into the western suburbs, but was completely contained in Franklin and Madison Counties. With The Ohio State University in the district, over half of the residents had college degrees, compared to about one-fourth of the population nationally. In 2002, the district was expanded north, to include the rapidly growing Union County (shown here). After Pryce decided not to run again in 2008, she was succeeded by another woman, Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy.

Election History

Year Democratic Opponent Pryce's % of 2-Party Vote
1992 Richard Cordray 53.8%
1994 Bill Buckel 70.8%
1996 Cliff Arnebeck 70.8%
1998 Adam Clay Miller 69.8%
2000 Bill Buckel 70.8%
2002 Mark Brown 66.6%
2004 Mark Brown 60.0%
2006 Mary Jo Kilroy 50.2%

District Map

Ohio's 15th District Map

Ohio's 15th District

Sources and Resources:

Auster, Elizabeth. 2007. "Leaving the House for Home," Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 9th.

"Deborah D. Pryce Papers." Ohio Congressional Archives, Ohio State University,

Farkas, Karen & Mary Beth Lane. 1992. "Women Struggle for Footing on New Political Ground," Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 4th.

Foerstel, Karen. 1999. Biographical Dictionary of Congressional Women. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Hulse, Carl. 2007. "For Retiring Republicans, Several Explanations." New York Times, October 30th,

"Pryce, Deborah." Women in Congress, U. S. House of Representatives Office of the Clerk,

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