Dear Commons Community,
In a closely watched special Congressional election in Ohio’s 12th District, it appears that Republican Troy Balderson will edge out Democrat Danny O’Connor by less than one percentage point. As reported by the New York Times:
“The Republican, Troy Balderson, a state senator who ran a plodding campaign, led his Democratic challenger, Danny O’Connor, by less than 1 percentage point with all precincts reporting. But an unknown number of provisional ballots are yet to be counted, and Ohio law provides for an automatic recount if the two candidates are ultimately separated by less than half a percentage point.
National Republicans declared victory before midnight, but it could be days or weeks before there is a conclusive result in the race. And regardless of the outcome, Mr. Balderson and Mr. O’Connor will face each other again in three months, in the regularly scheduled November election.
But already, Republicans’ brush with catastrophe in Ohio has deepened the party’s gloomy mood, highlighting the massive political mobilization among Democrats and the comparative demoralization of the Republican base. The district that Mr. Balderson may have barely won voted for Mr. Trump by 11 points less than two years ago, and routinely elected Republicans to Congress by landslide margins before that.
And on the Democratic side, the Ohio vote is likely to reignite debate about the cost of keeping Ms. Pelosi as party leader, and whether her declared intention to try to become House speaker again could limit their gains in November — or even cost them a chance to win the majority.
Even as Mr. O’Connor appeared to fall short, however, he significantly improved upon Hillary Clinton’s performance in the district’s suburban precincts, and he overwhelmed Mr. Balderson in the sort of high-income enclaves Republicans must perform better in to hold their 23-seat majority in the House.
As ominous for Republicans was the sizable gap in turnout between the most heavily populated suburban counties and the more rural reaches of the district. A higher percentage of voters from Franklin and Delaware Counties, the two largest jurisdictions, cast ballots than in the other, far smaller five counties.
“We are in a tied ballgame,” Mr. O’Connor said at his election night party, refusing to concede. He then repurposed his speech into an appeal for the general election in November; he and Mr. Balderson have both been nominated to face off again then.
“We’re not stopping now,” he said. “We must keep fighting through November.”
We wish Mr. O’Connor well as he prepares for November.