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Troy Balderson Wins 12th District Rematch Over Danny O'Connor

Republican Troy Balderson was re-elected to the Ohio 12th Congressional seat on Tuesday.
Adora Namigadde
Republican Troy Balderson was re-elected to the Ohio 12th Congressional seat on Tuesday.

Republican Troy Balderson won Ohio's 12th congressional district – again. Balderson previously won the special election in August to finish the term of Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi.

Balderson received 51.56 percent of the vote while O'Connor received 47.09 percent of the vote, according to unofficial vote tallies. It's an improvement on his performance in August's special election, when Balderson won by just 1,680 votes.

Now that he's claimed a victory in the midterm election, Balderson will hold the seat for the next two years. He thanked his campaign team in a victory speech in Newark late Tuesday, and focused on keeping the workforce strong.

“This economy is a plus for us,” Balderson said. “It’s good to keep people working. I’ve been trying to talk about this since I came into the state legislature.”

He promised to build up job training, particularly for veterans in the district.

“It’s jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s what it’s all about for me and always has been,” Balderson said. “We’re going to work on workforce development initiatives to get people to work that need skilled labor.”

With Balderson's win, the Republican Party will maintain control of a district that's been red for almost 40 years.

Danny O'Connor delivering his concession speech Tuesday night.
Credit Nick Evans / WOSU
Danny O'Connor delivering his concession speech Tuesday night.

In downtown Columbus, Democrats started the night brimming with optimism. Rep. Joyce Beatty easily won another term in her 3rd District seat, and Sen. Sherrod Brown’s was one of the earliest major races to be called. In a victory speech, Brown highlighted the importance of working class voters to his win.

“That is the message coming out of Ohio in 2018,” Brown said, “and that is the blueprint for America in 2020.”

But as the night wore on, races like the 12th congressional district showed Ohio wouldn’t see major gains for the party. A little after 10 p.m., Danny O'Connor took the stage to concede.

O'Connor thanked Balderson for his service, and joking about how he and his fiancé would finally get to plan their honeymoon.

The race stung, though, because O'Connor's campaign saw a path forward after he was defeated in the special election and organized a targeted get out the vote effort. But instead of making gains, O'Connor ended up losing by a larger margin. Still, he told supporters their work helped give Democrats the edge in Congress.

“It’s because of you not just here,” O’Connor said, “but across the country that we’ve taken back the house.”

Afterward, O’Connor said the party as whole is at a crossroads, and echoed Brown's call to connect blue collar voters.

“We have a leader in Sherrod Brown who is an example of that,” O’Connor said. “Our party needs to follow that, and you know like I said we are going to take the house back but it’s not because of the Midwest, and that needs to change in the future because we’ll be a short term majority and we won’t win the white house."

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.
Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.