GOP Declares Victory in Tight Ohio Race

Troy Balderson Danny O'Connor

Troy Balderson Danny O'Connor

Ohio Govenor John Kasich, a leading voice in the GOP's shrinking anti-Trump wing, once represented the district in Congress. In virtually every special election test dating back to the spring of 2017, Democratic candidates performed significantly better than their party in those same places two years earlier. He'll reprise his campaign against Balderson from now through November's general election. "The Republicans are embarrassed by their president, and because of that I think they want to put a brake on him, to send a message to him that his filthy talk, his boorish behavior, the way they've treated those little children down there on the border, his racism, is against OH values".

In Balderson's Columbus-area race, the GOP groups' Trump-like message in television advertisements focused overwhelmingly on latching O'Connor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and accusing him of being weak on issues such as immigration.

Mr Trump won the 12th Congressional District in 2016 by more than 11 percentage points and Republicans have held it since 1983.

"(Balderson)'s really tough. He's really smart.

The BBC correspondent in Washington says even if the Democrats lose the seat, they can claim a moral victory in OH, and will point to the results as further evidence that they are poised for success in November.

Some Republicans anxious that if Kobach won, his aggressive personality would make it harder to appeal to a broader electorate and give Democrats an opening in a red state that has been willing to elect Democrats as governor in the past.

Several voters said Trump was a factor in their decision. "Over the next three months I'm going to do everything I can to keep America great again".

"Danny's a good candidate", said Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland at Mr. O'Connor's election night party.

Another O'Connor voter there, Patricia Hughes, 61, said Trump was a factor in her voting for a Democrat.

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"When you look at the economy since he began, I'd say we're moving in the right direction and need more Republicans in there to support his agenda", he said. His campaign spent US$2.25 million ($3.33m) on advertising compared to Balderson's US$507,000 (NZ$750,000), according to campaign tallies of ad spending.

And in Michigan, Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow will take on military veteran and business executive John James, who won the Republican nomination.

Besides Colyer and Kobach, the other major GOP candidates, Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and former state Sen.

Democrats could also celebrate their showing in a district that has gone Republican for decades.

But Democrats believe momentum from this spring's protests over education funding against Republicans who control the state government could make the state surprisingly competitive this fall. He has spoken about bipartisanship, health care and Social Security more than guns or abortion - topics that divide even within parties.

Democrats haven't walk away with a clear win Tuesday night, but they didn't have to.

Balderson and O'Connor will face off again in November to fill the next two-year term.

Balderson led by 0.9 percentage points with all early and election day votes counted.

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