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Voters cast their ballots among an array of electronic voting machines in a polling station at the Noor Islamic Cultural Center  in Dublin, Ohio, on August 7.
Voters cast their ballots among an array of electronic voting machines in a polling station at the Noor Islamic Cultural Center  in Dublin, Ohio, on August 7.

Tight Race in Ohio Fuels Dems’ Hopes for November

The close Ohio special election has become a referendum on Republican President Donald Trump’s leadership and a last chance to gauge Democratic strength ahead of November’s midterm elections, in which the Republicans are defending majorities in both the

Tight Race in Ohio Fuels Dems’ Hopes for November

A hotly contested race in Ohio for a US House of Representatives seat that has gone Republican for more than 30 years remained too close to call on Wednesday, in an encouraging sign for Democrats heading into the Nov. 6 elections.
Republican Troy Balderson led Democrat Danny O'Connor by about 1,700 votes with all precincts reporting, although the Ohio secretary of state's office said a final result would be delayed until more than 8,000 provisional and absentee ballots were counted, Reuters reported.
Even if Balderson is eventually declared the winner, the narrow margin is little comfort for Republicans as they anxiously head into the November elections. It is certain to hearten Democrats, who performed dramatically better than expected.
"We're not stopping now," O'Connor told cheering supporters. He will reprise his campaign against Balderson from now through November's general election.
The close Ohio special election has become a referendum on Republican President Donald Trump's leadership and a last chance to gauge Democratic strength ahead of November's midterm elections, in which the Republicans are defending majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The central Ohio race was the marquee contest on a day when four other states held nominating contests, including a battle for governor in Michigan in which a mainstream candidate beat a progressive and a high-profile conservative challenge to the incumbent Republican governor in Kansas.
"Over the next three months, I'm going to do everything I can to keep America great again, so that when we come back here in November—get ready, we gotta come back here in November—I have earned your vote for a second time," Balderson told supporters.
It is unclear how much Trump's support helped or hurt Balderson. Described by campaign operatives as a "Whole Foods" district, the largely suburban region features a more affluent and educated voter base than the typical Trump stronghold.

>Avalanche of Attention
The Ohio contest drew an avalanche of national attention in recent weeks as polls showed it tightening, with Republicans and their allies outspending Democratic groups by more than 4 to 1.
Trump took credit for the apparent Republican victory, saying on Twitter that Balderson's campaign took "a big turn for the better" after he campaigned for him in the district on Saturday.
Other Republicans had also rushed to Balderson's aid. Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Trump critic, endorsed Balderson and Vice President Mike Pence visited.
Trump won the district by 11 percentage points in the White House race in 2016 and Republican Pat Tiberi won reelection to the House by a whopping 37 percentage points.
However, Tiberi resigned before finishing his term, forcing the special election to replace him. O'Connor, who did not concede on Tuesday, and Balderson will face off again in November to serve a full two-year term.
Democrats need to pick up 23 seats in the House and two seats in the Senate to win majorities in those chambers and put the brakes on Trump's agenda. All 435 House seats, 35 of 100 Senate seats and 36 of 50 governors' offices are up for grabs in November.

>Deep-Red Kansas
In deep-red Kansas, Republicans were fighting among themselves in an unusual battle for governor in which the president sided with the incumbent's challenger.
The candidate Trump backed on the eve of the election, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was neck and neck with current Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer, AP reported.
Should the polarizing Kobach win the primary, some Republican operatives fear he could lose the governorship to Democrats this fall. The race could become further disrupted if Kansas City-area businessman Greg Orman makes it onto the November ballot. He submitted petitions Monday with more than 10,000 signatures for what could become the most serious independent run for Kansas governor in decades.
Trump made his preference clear for Kobach. "He is a fantastic guy who loves his State and our Country—he will be a GREAT Governor and has my full & total Endorsement! Strong on Crime, Border & Military," the president tweeted on the eve of the election.
Republicans were hoping for Democratic discord in Kansas' 3rd Congressional District, a suburban Kansas City district where several candidates were fighting for the chance to take on Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in November.
The five-way Democratic primary featured labor lawyer Brent Welder, who campaigned recently with self-described democratic socialists Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and ascending political star, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York congressional candidate. Also in the race: Native American attorney Sharice Davids and former school teacher Tom Niermann.

>Trump Loyalist
In Ohio, the script for the special election was somewhat familiar: An experienced Trump loyalist, Balderson, was fighting a strong challenge from O'Connor, a fresh-faced Democrat, in a congressional district held by the Republican Party for more than three decades. As voters were going to the polls, Trump said Balderson would make a "great congressman".
In a special election season that featured nearly a dozen congressional contests, Democrats claimed just a handful of wins, but they may have cause for optimism this fall. 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.
Trump won Ohio's 12th Congressional District, for example, by more than 11 points in 2016; on Tuesday night, Balderson and O'Connor were separated by less than 1 point.
There are 79 House races this fall considered more competitive than the Ohio district—at least looking at Trump's 2016 performance—according to data compiled by the Democrats' national campaign committee.

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