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Special Election for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District is the Race to Watch

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Special Election for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District is the Race to WatchREAD MORE: Special Election for Ohio's 12th Congressional District is the Race to Watch
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Ohio’s 12th Congressional District is just one week away from a special election. It’ll determine which candidate, Democrat Danny O’Connor or Republican Troy Balderson, will complete the term of Republican Pat Tiberi, who announced his resignation last October. His term is up on January 3, 2019.

This special election is one of two the candidates will compete in. They’ll be back for the general election on November 6 to see who will represent the district from 2019 to 2021.

The election has drawn the attention of both national parties, as it looks as though O’Connor may have a chance at winning a district that’s been Republican-run for the last 40 years, and that President Donald Trump won by 11 points in 2016. The district covers parts of Delaware, Licking, Marion, Morrow, Muskingum, and Richland counties. Also included are Columbus’ northern suburbs as well as Clintonville, Old North, and the University District.

According to last month’s poll by Monmouth University, Balderson holds a 10-point lead over O’Connor (43 percent to 33 percent) among all potential voters. Green Party candidate Joe Manchik has earned just 1 percent of the vote. Another 21 percent are undecided.

A more recent study, published on July 24 by Center for Politics’ Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, is calling the race a toss-up. The study cited two competing factors, “local specifics” and “national trends,” that may make for a GOP upset in an otherwise heavily Republican-favored district.

“For a while, it appeared as though the local specifics — a decent GOP candidate in Balderson and the GOP’s historic strength in this district — were guiding the race and contributing to Balderson’s lead,” it states. “…But as the election approaches, national trends may be asserting themselves in what are not normal circumstances: Democratic enthusiasm and special election results have often broken in their favor.

“Oh, and there’s another local factor: O’Connor is a decent candidate, too.”

O’Connor and Balderson come together on several issues. Both support a reasonable pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and a review of the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to Ballotpoedia.

Where they diverge, unsurprisingly, is in their support of Trump and his policy plans. Balderson backs the construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. As a vehement supporter of the second amendment, Balderson has received high ratings from the NRA and the Buckeye Firearms Association. An anti-choice candidate, he voted to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected and has received an endorsement from Ohio Right to Life.

O’Connor is endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. Although he runs as a Democrat, he’s campaigned as a moderate striving to work across party lines. Earlier this month O’Connor ran an ad featuring voters who’d gone for Gov. John Kasich and Trump who now plan on voting for him.

“I voted for Trump because I didn’t like the way things were going in Washington and now I’m supporting Danny O’Connor because I met Danny and I felt like he was very genuine,” said Shannon, a resident of Delaware, in the ad. “John Kasich and Danny O’Connor both don’t worry about the labels of Democrat, Republican. They’re going to go get things done either way.”

The August 7 special election is being watched closely not only for its statewide implications, but what it could mean for midterm elections overall. Early voting has already begun as of July 10. To check voting registration and find out where to cast a ballot, visit voterlookup.sos.state.oh.us.

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