Republican Troy Balderson declared official winner of Ohio special election after hair-splitting race

Evie Fordham, DCNFDCNF

Republican Troy Balderson was finally declared the winner of the Aug. 7 special election for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District Friday, defeating Democrat Danny O’Connor.

Balderson, 56, who has been an Ohio state senator since 2011, beat 31-year-old Franklin County Recorder O’Connor. Balderson had a margin of a little more than 1,700 votes, or 0.9 percent, according to counts on Aug. 7, but O’Connor has not yet conceded.

Balderson and Republicans claimed victory before the election was officially called Friday.

The Democrat was ahead when the early votes rolled in on Aug. 7, but he and Balderson traded off being in the lead all night.

President Donald Trump congratulated Balderson on Twitter Aug. 7 even though the race had not been called.

“Congratulations to Troy Balderson on a great win in Ohio,” Trump wrote. “A very special and important race!”

O’Connor called for a recount on Twitter Tuesday night although Balderson’s margin was above 0.5 percent, which would have meant an automatic recount.

The Democrat would have had to take “79 percent of the remaining 8,483 uncounted ballots to make up the deficit,” reported the Columbus Dispatch Wednesday.

Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi retired early, triggering the special election. Balderson, who is also a candidate in the November general election, will serve through the end of Tiberi’s term in January, reported CNBC.

President Donald Trump endorsed Balderson via Twitter on July 21.

“Troy Balderson of Ohio is running for Congress against a Nancy Pelosi Liberal who is WEAK on Crime [and] Borders,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Troy is the total opposite, and loves our Military, Vets [and] 2nd Amendment. EARLY VOTING just started with Election Day on August 7th. Troy has my Full [and] Total Endorsement!”

Trump held a campaign rally with Balderson in Lewis Center, Ohio, Saturday. Vice President Mike Pence had also traveled to Ohio to campaign for Balderson on July 30.

Republican Party-linked groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund spent $2.4 million to back Balderson, while about $280,000 in outside spending was used to back O’Connor, reported CNBC.

Trump won the district by nine percent in the 2016 presidential election, according to FiveThirtyEight.

This story is developing and will be updated.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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