Ohio special election Tuesday watched for clues to November

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A Democrat is within striking distance of winning a congressional race in Ohio on Tuesday for an open seat that has been reliably Republican for more than three decades. Both national parties are focusing on the contest for clues to whether Democrats will retake the U.S. House in November.

Republican President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have campaigned in support of the GOP candidate over the past week. Polls taken by Emerson College and Monmouth University before Saturday’s Trump event in suburban Columbus showed the race neck-and-neck.

Troy Balderson, a two-term Republican state senator, is working to retain GOP control of the 12th District. He faces Democrat Danny O’Connor, the Franklin County recorder, whose fundraising outpaced Balderson’s during the most recent reporting period by nearly four times.

Working phones at a volunteer site Monday, Balderson said he’s felt enthusiasm throughout the district following Trump’s visit Saturday.

“He definitely brought major excitement, and they were excited to see him up here,” Balderson said.

The seat was held for 18 years by GOP Gov. John Kasich and nearly another 18 by U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, a pro-business, establishment Republican. Both are backing and campaigning for Balderson in Tuesday’s special election for the remainder of Tiberi’s unexpired term.