Polls close for MI and Kansas primaries

Posted August 08, 2018

With a margin of 50.2%to 49.3%, the Republican Troy Balderson was narrowly ahead of the Democrat Danny O'Connor on Tuesday night in a congressional special election sparked by the resignation of the longtime incumbent Pat Tiberi to take a private sector job.

WOSU has been paying close attention to the special election between Democratic Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor and Republican state Rep. Troy Balderson.

Balderson gave a speech thanking Trump for his help in campaigning, saying he himself had "big shoes to fill" in Congress and that he would "do everything I can to make America great again".

The CLF closed with an ad from Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) strongly endorsing the candidate, a move that may have helped shore him up just enough in the more upscale, country club Republican parts of the district (Kasich, a frequent Trump antagonist, plays much better in those parts of the state). Heading into the vote, the Republican candidate in a long-held conservative district had a slim one-point lead over the Democrat contender.

Trump won the district by 11 points in 2016.

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CNN chief national correspondent and anchor John King on Tuesday noted that a Democratic win in Tuesday's special election in a heavily-red district in OH could signal a blue wave in the fall that would likely put impeachment "on the table".

The race has centered on Trump's tax cuts at times as much as the candidates themselves.

The primary also is when the next congressman or congresswoman will effectively be chosen in two solidly Democratic U.S. House seats opening due to retirements, and when nominees will be selected for an open battleground district in suburban Detroit. "A very special and important race!" he said in a second tweet.

Over in Kansas, Republicans are locked in an internal fight for the governorship.

Senate Republicans had hoped to make MI, a state which Trump carried, competitive, but it's fallen down the list of top targets for 2018. Polls began to show a close race in July, and the GOP frantically dumped money and resources into the district to try to shore up Balderson. Kasich has been an outspoken leader of the anti-Trump Republicans.

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Tuesday's elections carry high stakes for Democrats, too - with races in Kansas, Michigan and Missouri, where the progressive left hopes to defeat more moderate candidates.

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

The five-way Democratic primary featured labour lawyer Brent Welder, who campaigned recently with self-described democratic socialists Vermont Sen.

"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. O'Connor had raised almost $1.5 million and had spent $1.35 million, but had vastly outspent Balderson when it came to television advertising. Bernie Sanders and ascending political star, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a NY congressional candidate.

Senate contests in Missouri and MI were coming into focus as two vulnerable Democrats, Missouri's Claire McCaskill and Michigan's Debbie Stabenow, were expected to easily claim their party's nominations.

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Also in the race: Native American attorney Sharice Davids and former school teacher Tom Niermann.