Republicans Spent Big to Win a Special Election. Now They're anxious

Tom Steyer speaks at the Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans Louisiana on Thursday Aug. 2 2018. The liberal donor

Tom Steyer speaks at the Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans Louisiana on Thursday Aug. 2 2018. The liberal donor

In Ohio, the script for the 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.

"Ohio, vote today for Troy Balderson for Congress", the President tweeted on Tuesday morning, saying that Mr. O'Connor "is weak on Crime, the Border, Military, Vets, your 2nd Amendment - and will end your Tax Cuts".

"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.

The Cook Political Report, which monitors congressional races across the country, lists the Lowcountry 1st District, long held by Republicans, as a potential pickup for Democrats this fall.

Pollsters rate the OH race between Republican State Senator Troy Balderson and Democratic lawyer Danny O'Connor, 31, as a toss-up.

The most recent poll, released by Emerson College on Monday, called the race a dead heat.

The two parties used tactics in OH likely to be replicated in upcoming congressional races across the country. He also called out Trump's brand of smash mouth politics - a move that many see as an attempt to court independents and anti-Trump Republicans.

"We always knew this was going to be a close race, and while we don't know the results quite yet, I know that this campaign left it all on the field", O'Connor said in a statement Tuesday night.

Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to take control of the House, and Republicans are now defending dozens of districts that are more favorable to Democrats than Ohio's 12th District, which Trump in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012 both won by 11 percentage points. "That was not good", the president tweeted.

Should the polarizing Kobach win, some Republican operatives fear he could lose the governor's seat to Democrats this fall.

But it's a bad sign for Republicans that they keep having to fight this hard to hold onto seats that are normally slam dunks for their party. Check back for updates throughout the evening as votes are counted.

The two candidates aren't done with one another: They'll face off once again in November.

O'Connor has dominated Balderson on the local airwaves.

O'Connor and his Democratic allies have railed against the tax plan, casting it as a giveaway for the rich that exacerbates federal deficits and threatens Medicare and Social Security. 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.

The special election will fill the seat vacated by Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R), who is retiring.

Senate contests in Missouri and MI will come into focus as two vulnerable Senate Democrats, Missouri's Claire McCaskill and Michigan's Debbie Stabenow, are expected to easily claim their party's nominations. "He will win BIG in Nov".

The day after Trump's appearance, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a prominent GOP critic of Trump, said he asked Balderson if he invited Trump at all into the district in the Columbus suburbs - the sort of area where Republicans have lost voters who rebelled against Trump in previous special elections.

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