Backed GOPer claims victory in special election for OH congressional seat

Voters head to the polls in 5 states

Republican state Senator Troy Balderson is declaring a victory over Democrat candidate Danny O'Connor tonight in an OH special election race to finish what's left of former Representative Pat Tiberi's congressional term.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Ohio's 12th congressional district is too close to call.

"I've worked in OH presidential and senate races for Republicans and the idea of #oh12 being a close race is sort of like hearing gravity is a regional phenomena", tweeted Republican strategist Stuart Stevens.

Republicans declared victory with Steve Stivers, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, saying "I'm proud that my fellow central Ohioan, Troy Balderson, will join me in Congress" and congratulating him on a "hard-fought victory". Republican Troy Balderson has 101,566 votes, and Democrat Danny O'Connor has 99,800.

"Voters in Ohio's 12th Congressional District picking a new congressman", King said on CNN's "Inside Politics".

In a special election season that featured almost a dozen congressional contests, Democrats claimed just a handful of wins, but they may have cause for optimism this fall.

The election would have been considered a major loss for the Republicans since President Donald Trump won the state by an 11 point margin in 2016. "That was not good", the president tweeted.

In Kansas, Republicans were fighting among themselves in an unusual battle for governor in which the president sided with the incumbent's challenger.

O'Connor needed Franklin County - which includes the state capital of Columbus - to come out strongly for him in order to topple his Republican rival.

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Polls are now open for today's Kansas Democratic and Republican primaries.

However, if Balderson keeps the victory, it will be short-lived - the seat will go up for election again in November for the general midterm election. At one point in the campaign, Balderson couldn't name a single area of disagreement but since cited differences on tariffs and immigration.

His opponent's campaign was described by some analysts as "not serious".

Democrats, meanwhile, have been attacking Balderson by casting his support of tax cuts as threats to Social Security and Medicare.

O'Connor dominated Balderson on the local airwaves. The Republican campaign arm and its allied super PAC were forced to pick up the slack, spending more than US$4 million (NZ$5.9m) between them.

In Michigan, three mainstream Democrats in suburban Detroit were among those vying for a chance at retiring Republican Rep. Dave Trott's seat in November.

It seems Republican Governor John Kasich's decision to endorse Balderson, who's running for his old seat, in a TV ad during the campaign's final week had a a bigger impact than Trump's visit.

"With twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats, this district should have been a slam dunk for the GOP, and the fact that we are still counting ballots is an ominous sign for their prospects in November", DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján said in a statement.

Schuette will face Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer in November, who claimed the nomination in one of Democrats' top pick-up opportunities this fall. "He will win BIG in Nov".

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