State Sen. Troy Balderson (R) led Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor (D) 50.2-49.3 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting in the special election to replace former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R). (Secretary of State) But the race is still too close to call and O’Connor declined to concede. The “results won’t become official until more than 8,500 additional ballots are tabulated in 10 days: those from provisional voters and absentees mailed in from overseas and the military. Once that final total is calculated, Ohio law requires a mandatory recount if the margin is with 0.5 points.” (Columbus Dispatch)
President Trump took credit for the victory, accurately noting Balderson’s huge deficit in the early vote. “After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better,” he wrote. (Twitter) But O’Connor “significantly improved upon Hillary Clinton’s performance in the district’s suburban precincts, and he overwhelmed Mr. Balderson in the sort of high-income enclaves Republicans must perform better in to hold their 23-seat majority in the House. As ominous for Republicans was the sizable gap in turnout between the most heavily populated suburban counties and the more rural reaches of the district.” (New York Times)
COMMITTEE RESPONSE. DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan: “That this race is too close to call speaks volumes about Danny O’Connor’s strength and Republicans’ expensive, failed playbook. 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."
NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers: "Nancy Pelosi and her liberal donors flooded this district with money and ads in an attempt to buy this seat. However, Troy's focus never wavered from the issues central Ohioans care about like fighting opioids, creating jobs, and lowering taxes." (releases)
MONEY MATTERS. Spending in the special totaled $8 million as of Tuesday. “According to media buyers and party sources, … O’Connor spent $2.4 million on the air, while ... Balderson spent a bit less than $600,000.” The NRCC “spent roughly $1.4 million, either on independent expenditures or in conjunction with Balderson; the DCCC spent roughly half as much. And the Congressional Leadership Fund … spent $2.7 million on ads and organizing. At the same time, the Democratic National Committee reported spending $300,000 in Ohio, mostly on organizing the local Democratic Party, as well as $100,000 directly to O’Connor in donations from the DCCC’s email list.” (Washington Post)
LAST DITCH SPENDING. The DCCC spent about $1.15 million on the race, with a little bit half of that investment going toward voter contact and GOTV efforts. The committee sent 60,000 Election-Day texts to voters highlighting a comment Balderson made on Monday night, urging supporters not to let a man from Franklin County represent them. (New York Times) Meanwhile, American Bridge, the Democratic super PAC, also ran a last-minute Twitter ad highlighting that comment. (release)
And former Vice President Joe Biden “recorded a robocall for O'Connor.” Biden: “Ohioans need leaders like Danny, who will stand up for working families, protect critical services that help folks get ahead and work together to find common ground in Congress.” (Politico)
BIG PICTURE. “There are indications that the field of imperiled Republican-held seats is growing. Behind the scenes, Republican officials are polling districts across the country to determine who’s in jeopardy and in need of help as the post-Labor Day campaign push approaches, a list that includes incumbents residing in relatively conservative areas, such as” Reps. Claudia Tenney (R-NY 22) and Andy Barr (R-KY 06). (Politico)