As a 28-year-old in his first major race, Daniel Kilgore made a pretty darn good showing.
The Willard, Ohio native and Columbus resident garnered almost 15,000 votes in the 2020 Democratic primary for U.S. House Ohio District 15, coving the southern portions of Columbus as well as communities west and south of the City including Athens and Wilmington. Kilgore’s 34.4% fell short of attorney Joel Newby’s 64.4%, with Newby going on to handily lose to Republican incumbent Steve Stivers by almost 28%.
Today on his 29th birthday, Kilgore announced his bid to unseat Stivers, who has received a 0 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard every single year he has been in office.
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Kilgore to learn more about what he has learned since last year’s primary defeat and why the current leadership in Washington desperately needs to be changed.
Why Congress and why now?
There are a lot of reasons why. The same guy has been in office since 2011 and he hasn’t done anything. I’m tired of seeing hard-working people who work 40+ hours a week and then sit in line for two to three hours at a food bank trying to get food put on their tables. Jobs are constantly leaving the area. And yet [Stivers] is out there bragging that unemployment rates are down and everything is going well. How can I you brag about that when more and more people have to use the food-banking system in the area? People just don’t feel like they’re represented anymore by their own people.
What alternative do you present to the current leadership?
I understand what it’s like to struggle. I know what it’s like to go day by day wondering,
how am I going to get groceries this week?” I have experienced homelessness before. I have watched my grandparents—who raised me—try to cover their own medical bills and my medical bills when I was younger and really sick. But even as they were struggling, they didn’t want me to help with bills because they felt they were obligated to help me succeed in life. They raised me to believe that you have to help people and that you can’t just stand there and sit there and watch people struggle.
I work a full-time job. There are people who are working 40 or 60 or 80 hours a week and are still struggling. I understand what that’s like more than most people. For years, I worked multiple jobs to try to get ahead of things like student loans, rent, and bills. And then you have politicians saying that the job market is good, there’s no need to raise a minimum wage. But but yet cost of living and medical experience are constantly skyrocketing and the status quo is staying the same. Something needs to be done.
What did you learn from your first time around that will help you be successful with this run?
First time around, there was a lot to learn <laughs> How to do fundraising, how to do communications with different groups. This time around, I’m getting things done early like laying the groundwork and establishing the networking.
Last year, I went straight into campaigning before I had a full system in place because I was trying to get ahead of anybody else jumping in the race. Now I know what it’s like to run a campaign and I know what it’s like to do more community outreach work from my time as a Voter Activation Regional Director on the Biden campaign. That experience helped tremendously. I loved talking to people, and I loved meeting new people but sometimes I’m hesitant to reach out to new groups because I’m afraid they are going to be put off by me reaching out. But I’ve learned since then.
Finally, you’re out about being a DC superhero fan. Which characters have you learned from to help you move forward?
[laughs]That’s a complicated one! I would call upon Wonder Woman because she has wisdom, love and compassion. I have to include Superman for his sense of justice. I probably would say Martian Manhunter simply because he understands what it’s like to not fit in, but to try really hard to fit in. He also understands social injustices because his alternate identity is J’onn J’onzz, an African American police detective. So he sees prejudice in the police force and also he’s also trying to uphold the law. And I have to throw in Batman simply for his resources and vast connections to networks that he has developed as Bruce Wayne.
- Learn more about Daniel Kilgore and his bid to be elected to Ohio’s 15th Congressional District by visiting his website.
- Check in with the Ohio Secretary of State’s website to make sure you are registered to vote and update your voter registration address.