- By Jessica Wehrman Washington Bureau
Ohio’s 12th congressional district – which drew national attention during a special election earlier this month – will remain in Republican hands for at least the next three months.
Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor conceded the race to Ohio Sen. Troy Balderson of Zanesville Friday, maintaining the Republicans’ generations-long hold on the seat. With all provisional and absentee votes counted, Balderson won the seat with 50.1 percent of the vote.
O’Connor called Balderson to concede Friday afternoon.
“I’m humbled by the support I’ve received from voters and look forward to representing Ohio’s 12th Congressional district in Congress,” Balderson in a statement. “Danny O’Connor ran a hard-fought race, but I look forward to earning the support of voters for a fourth time in November as I share my track record of getting things done for Ohioans, including balancing the budget, cutting taxes and creating an environment for job creation.”
The seat became open following the retirement of long-time congressman and Republican Pat Tiberi. The special election will cover the remaining few months of Tiberi’s term, with Balderson, O’Connor and Green Party candidate Joe Manchik squaring off again in November for a full two-year term.
Balderson won all but one of the seven counties in the district. Franklin County, O’Connor’s home turf, backed him by a big margin, however: 47,639 to 25,209 for Balderson.
In Licking County, which also certified its vote Friday, Balderson won with nearly 61 percent of the vote.
The final, district-wide vote count was 104,328 for Balderson, 102,648 for O’Connor and 1,165 for Manchik. O’Connor fell shy of getting within the 0.5 percent margin that would have forced an automatic recount.
In a statement, O’Connor said he congratulated Balderson on his victory, and thanked his staff, volunteers and voters.
“We went door to door, we went house to house, we made our case for change, and the grassroots army we’ve created is not done yet,” he said. “In fact, we’re just getting started. We have eleven weeks to keep talking to voters, listening to their ideas, and to bring home a win for working families in Central Ohio this November.”
Although the district has not had a Democratic congressman since 1982, political analysts had watched the race closely, trying to determine whether it might be an indication of how Republicans will perform in the 2018 midterm elections.
In the final days leading up to August 7 special election, national media descended, as did President Donald Trump, who came to Delaware County to campaign for Balderson. GOP congressional leadership and Vice President Mike Pence also stumped for him. And Ohio Gov. John Kasich – in a rare and temporary moment of agreement with Trump — cut an ad for Balderson, although he later questioned whether Balderson had actually invited Trump.
The special election will cover the remaining few months of Tiberi’s term, with all three candidates facing off Nov. 6 for a full two-year term.