WASHINGTON – The outcome of the special election contest for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District remains unclear more than 12 hours after polls have closed.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Republican State Sen. Troy Balderson leads Democrat Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor 50.15 percent to 49.29 percent, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
More than 8,000 provisional and absentee ballots have not yet been counted, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Balderson declared victory late-Tuesday evening.
“I am honored for the opportunity to represent Ohio’s 12th Congressional District,” he said in a statement. “I will work relentlessly for everyone in this district.”
President Donald Trump, who travelled to the district last week to campaign for Balderson, credited himself for boosting the candidate.
When I decided to go to Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting 64 to 36. That was not good. After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting. He will win BIG in Nov.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2018
O’Connor told supporters to prepare for a possible recount.
Folks, our race is too close to call.
And now we’re entering what could be a long and expensive recount.
Will you please chip in to help us make sure every vote is counted fairly? https://t.co/CEFdOwrXCN
— Danny O'Connor (@dannyoconnor1) August 8, 2018
Polls showed Balderson and O’Connor neck-in-neck heading into the race.
The candidates are vying for the seat Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) vacated in January to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable.
The Columbus-area district has not been represented by a Democrat since 1983.
Trump carried the district by 11 points in 2016.
Pundits say the outcome of the contest could foreshadow which party controls the House of Representatives next year.
Democrats would need 23 seats to retake the House.
The party is hedging its bets on centrist candidates like O’Connor who are competitive in suburban and rust-belt districts won by Trump.
Earlier this year Democrats celebrated the special election victory of Rep. Conor Lamb in a Pittsburgh-area district Trump won by more than 20 points. Lamb, who is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment, defeated an outspoken Republican supported by Trump.
Washington, Kansas, Michigan and Missouri held primaries on Tuesday.
The outcome of Missouri’s Senate primaries has resulted in a general election matchup between Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, and Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican.
Recent polls show Hawley with a slight lead.
Missouri is reliably Republican. Trump won the state by nearly 20 points in 2016.
In Michigan, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) will face combat veteran and businessman John James (R).
Recent polls showed Stabenow with a substantial lead in a hypothetical matchup.
Trump won Michigan by less than one percentage point in 2016. He is the first Republican to carry the state since 1988.
The GOP has a razor-thin majority in the Senate. However, this year’s political landscape is not favorable to Democrats.
Republicans are defending nine seats. Democrats are defending 25 seats.