Democrat O’Connor has lead in early OH returns

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The script for Ohio's special election was somewhat familiar: An experienced Trump loyalist, Balderson, was fighting a strong challenge from O'Connor, a fresh-faced Democrat, in a congressional district held by the Republican Party for more than three decades.

O'Connor, 31, worked as an local official in Ohio's Franklin County a relatively moderate Democrat and campaigned on changing the health care and Social Security systems and pushed for bipartisan action in Congress.

Voters on Tuesday are choosing would-be successors to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who can not run again due to term limits, and a GOP nominee to face third-term Democratic Sen.

Battleground Ohio was deciding the year's final special election on Tuesday, a congressional faceoff that tested anew President Donald Trump's political clout - and the appeal of his signature tax cuts.

Heading into the race, Democrats needed to flip 23 seats to win the House this fall.

Trump took the district with 53 percent of the vote in 2016, just one-point below Mitt Romney's performance there in 2012. However, most of the votes in Johnson County, the state's most populous county, had yet to be counted, according to the Kansas elections website.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Trump also had a good night.

"It's closer than originally thought, but it's a challenging midterm environment", said one national Republican strategist involved in the race.

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On Twitter, Trump called Kobach a "strong and early supporter of mine". In November, Republicans will be defending over 70 seats that are considered more favorable for Democrats and will not have those advantages. Ohio's 12th Congressional District, in the suburbs of Columbus, has had a Republican representative for 35 years, and has been largely in GOP hands since 1920.

This special election in the 12congressional district is the last contest until the 2018 midterms, where Democratic enthusiasm is through the roof.

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

The concern extends to Kobach's potential impact on two potentially competitive congressional races in Kansas, too - including Rep. Kevin Yoder's re-election bid in the 3rd District, a top Democratic target.

The five-way Democratic primary featured labor lawyer Brent Welder, who campaigned recently with self-described democratic socialists Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and NY congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who catapulted to fame when she defeated the No. 4 House Democrat in a June primary.

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

"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.

Mr. Hawley, the Missouri attorney general, advances to face Democratic Sen.