On Friday, President Donald Trump made a surprise endorsement, backing Ohio state Sen. Troy Balderson in his special election race to replace retiring Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio). Balderson faces Danny O’Connor, one of the most stalwart intraparty voices against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who nevertheless suggested that he might back her for speaker of the House if push came to shove.
“[Troy Balderson] of Ohio is running for Congress – so important to the Republican Party,” President Trump tweeted. “Cast you early vote or vote on August 7th. Troy is strong on crime and borders, loves our Military, our Vets and our Second Amendment. He has my full and total Endorsement!”
.@Troy_Balderson of Ohio is running for Congress – so important to the Republican Party. Cast you early vote or vote on August 7th. Troy is strong on crime and borders, loves our Military, our Vets and our Second Amendment. He has my full and total Endorsement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2018
Trump joined Ohio Governor John Kasich in endorsing Balderson. The Ohio State Medical Association also backed him — an important move, given O’Connor’s focus on health care.
According to his website, the Republican candidate is “a lifelong conservative” and “believes in protecting all life, our Second Amendment rights, and in getting government out of the way so Ohio’s job creators can grow without the restraints of government red tape.”
In the Ohio State Senate, Balderson voted to cut taxes by $5 billion, eliminate the state’s deficit, and replenish the rainy day fund, according to his campaign website. During his time in the State Senate, Ohio created 500,000 new jobs.
His Democrat opponent, Danny O’Connor, came under fire this week for appearing to cave in his opposition to Nancy Pelosi, who has vowed to run for speaker of the House if the Democrats win the House of Representatives this fall. O’Connor admitted that if his were the decisive vote, and if it was either Pelosi or a Republican, he would choose Pelosi.
For his part, O’Connor has the endorsements of two Democrat representatives from Ohio and from the state’s former Democrat governor, Ted Strickland — who lost the U.S. Senate race to Rob Portman in 2016.
According to RealClearPolitics, Balderson leads in the latest polls by around 10 points.
The special election on August 7 will determine who serves until January 9, 2019. No matter who wins, Balderson and O’Connor are likely to face off again in November for the full term.
Ohio’s 12th Congressional District is a key target for Democrats hoping to turn the House blue. August 7 will prove an important litmus test for November.