News & Analysis

Balderson, GOP Escape Near Upset on Election Night

800Michigan candidate for U.S. Senate John James. Photo: Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Yesterday, the GOP escaped a near catastrophic loss in Ohio’s 12th congressional district special election. State Senator Troy Balderson eked out a victory in the 12th district north of Columbus Tuesday night over his Democratic challenger, Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor.

After the provisional ballots are counted it looks like Balderson will hold the district by less than 1% despite the district’s Republican history, and despite outspending O’Connor by a ratio of 4:1. Balderson will replace the retired Congressman Pat Tiberi-R who served the district for over 18 years. Looking back it this election it is clear that despite the victory, this is sure to be a scare for the GOP. Polls back in June had Balderson up by double digits, however like we saw in the Pennsylvania special election back in March, Democrats came marching back to pull the race into toss-up category.

Once again President Trump had to swoop in to save the day holding a rally in support of Balderson in Lewis Center Saturday night. Unlike in Pennsylvania it looks like the president’s rally proved just enough as Balderson comes out on top. However, unless if the president wants to have 27o rallies before the midterm elections, Republicans need to figure out how to win without being bailed out by the president.

Republicans need to hold rural and suburban districts like Ohio’s 12th if Republicans are to retain their majority in the House. Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have a massive war chest and have proved that they can compete in red-leaning districts. The House truly is up for grabs this year.

troy-balderson-d4b9fd2695f4a4ffCongressman Troy Balderson, the new congressman for Ohio’s 12th district. Photo: John Minchillo/AP

While Democrats will cite the district’s R +7 PVI, and claim victory by coming so close, Republicans still win last night’s prize. Despite the fact that the district has been held historically by Republicans, Democrats have won the state before, like when Obama carried the district in 2008, 53% to 46%, over Senator John McCain. Republicans should feel relieved but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure a victory in the midterms.

The true victor of the night was in fact the president. Several Trump backed candidates won their respective primaries tonight like now-U.S. senatorial candidates John James in Michigan and Josh Hawley in Missouri. In November, James will face Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Hawley will look to defeat the vulnerable Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. In Kansas, the gubernatorial primary is too close to call as Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer and Trump-supported Secretary of State Kris Kobach are in a statistical dead heat.

President Trump tonight single handedly turned around an apparent loss for the GOP. If Republicans have taken away from last night, they’re saying “Thank God for President Trump.”


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