Battleground Ohio was deciding the year’s final special election on Tuesday, a congressional faceoff that tested anew President Donald Trump’s political clout — and the appeal of his signature tax cuts.
The Republican president’s shadow also loomed over primary contests in four other states, none bigger than Kansas, where Trump roiled the governor’s race by opposing the GOP incumbent on the eve of the election.
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In Ohio, Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson claimed victory over Democratic county official Danny O’Connor amid a tight congressional race in a district that has been in GOP hands since before the 31-year-old Democrat was born.
The day’s races, like dozens before them, pitted Trump’s fiery supporters against the Democratic Party’s anti-Trump resistance.
Trump congratulated Balderson on Tuesday night.
The results will help determine the political landscape — and Trump’s standing within his own party — just three months before the GOP defends its House and Senate majorities across the nation.
Voters in Ohio and Kansas joined those in Missouri, Michigan and Washington state. But only Ohio will send someone to Congress immediately.
The script for Ohio’s 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. In an election morning tweet, Trump said Balderson would make a “great congressman.”
The winner will fill the seat previously held by Pat Tiberi, a nine-term incumbent who resigned to take a job with an Ohio business group.
Trump himself campaigned at Balderson’s side just 72 hours before Election Day, a weekend appearance to help energize his loyalists in a district the president carried by 11 percentage points.
Several voters casting ballots in suburban Westerville Tuesday, both Democrat and Republican, said they saw little difference between the two candidates.
Mike Flynn, a hospital unit coordinator from suburban New Albany northeast of Columbus, voted for Balderson as a show of support for Tiberi. Flynn, 43, said he didn’t care for mudslinging on either side of the campaign.
But Trevor Moffitt, a public health doctoral student at The Ohio State University who voted for O’Connor, said he felt Balderson’s attacks on Democrats went too far.