LEWIS CENTER – President Donald Trump wants Republican Troy Balderson to represent central Ohioans in Congress – so much so that Trump is rallying to support him later today.
Balderson, a state senator from Zanesville, is locked in a tight race with Democrat Danny O’Connor, a Franklin County elected official, to fill the remaining months of former Rep. Pat Tiberi’s term. The special election is Tuesday for residents of Ohio’s 12th congressional district, which stretches from Mansfield to Zanesville and includes Columbus’ northern suburbs.
Balderson has some power in his corner: Trump repeatedly endorsed the state senator. Vice President Mike Pence on Monday stumped for Balderson in Newark. Even Gov. John Kasich appeared in an ad touting Balderson.
Balderson is trying to unite both Trump supporters and fans of Gov. John Kasich to win the race. Both Republicans, who agree on little, have endorsed Balderson.
U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci’s suggestion to Balderson: Embrace Trump.
“There are a lot of good things happening. He has to stay on message with that,” said Renacci, who is running for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. “People are concerned about jobs and the economy and right now, things are going in the right direction. We can’t go backward.”
Republicans have held the 12th district for decades. Tiberi and Kasich held versions of the central Ohio district over the years. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district, which voted for Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by 11 percentage points in 2016.
Still, Democrats are hoping to flip the district blue by driving enthusiastic voters to the polls. Democrats hold the advantage in early voting.
If Balderson loses, the race could reflect on Trump’s popularity in the Midwest before the November midterm elections.
Before the rally, the crowd erupted in cheers for U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, who is running for Speaker of the House. “Jordan!” “Speaker of the House!” they yelled.
Jordan is facing allegations that he knew about sexual abuse at the Ohio State University’s wrestling program while he was an assistant coach. He has denied knowing about any misconduct.
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