(EDITOR’S NOTE, 8/8/18, 12:21 AM ET: Grit Post originally called the special election for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District for Troy Balderson at approximately 11:30 PM Eastern Time with 100 percent of precincts reporting and Balderson ahead by nearly 2,000 votes. However, with provisional and absentee ballots still to be counted, the winner likely won’t officially be declared until later this week or early next week.)
In Tuesday’s special election, Republican Troy Balderson narrowly won Ohio’s 12th Congressional District in a photo finish.
Balderson officially defeated O’Connor by just 1,754 votes with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Balderson won by less than one point in the Republican stronghold that’s been red since 1983. Because tonight was a special election to replace outgoing Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), Balderson will have to run for re-election against O’Connor in November, according to the New York Times.
The race was nationally significant, with pollsters and pundits viewing it as a litmus test for whether or not Democrats could retake the House of Representatives in November in a so-called “Blue Wave.” The fact that O’Connor lost by such a slim margin is particularly important for Democrats given that Ohio’s 12th Congressional District went for Trump by 11 points in 2016, and Ohio’s reputation as a must-win for both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.
Despite being just a 31-year-old county recorder in Franklin County, Ohio, O’Connor managed to raise more money than Balderson, with Federal Election Commission records showing him with $1.4 million in contributions compared to Balderson’s $1.2 million. O’Connor’s fundraising edge came despite President Trump backing Balderson in the contested special election.
Balderson’s by-a-nose victory in the district that FiveThirtyEight rated as 14 percent more Republican than most Congressional districts on average is something Republicans everywhere may want to pay attention to. Democrats only need a net gain of 24 seats in November in order to retake the majority in the House of Representatives.
Controlling the House also means that Democrats will have subpoena power. As CNBC pointed out, Democrats could launch multiple investigations into everything from Trump’s tax returns, to Jared Kushner’s real estate dealings and whether or not Trump is personally profiting from foreign governments booking the Trump International Hotel for their events.
Elsewhere in the Buckeye State, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — the leader of the arch-conservative House Freedom Caucus who has since launched a bid for House Speaker — could lose his re-election battle in his traditionally Republican district, given Tuesday night’s nail-biter in the 12th Congressional District. Jordan is currently being hounded over how much he knew about former Ohio State University wrestling team doctor Richard Strauss when Jordan was an assistant coach.
Election Day is just 91 days away as of this writing.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.