In a stunning display of an imminent "Blue Wave" in the 2018 Midterm Elections, Democrat Danny O'Connor is within reach of victory in Ohio's 12th Congressional District, a seat held by Republicans for over thirty years.
With all precincts reporting and thousands of provisional ballots still to be counted, the race is too close to call. Still, the fact that a Democrat was competitive at all in this one time GOP stronghold is nothing short of a miracle.
It is hard to see this election as anything but a growing resentment of a Republican Party drifting to the Far-Right and away from small town America. As the GOP adopts a more Trumpian style, suburban areas, such as the cities which dot the district, are increasingly turning away from their old partisan loyalties.
It was also not help to Republicans that their nominee, State Senator Troy Balderson, proved to be astonishingly weak as a candidate. His campaign put out increasingly desperate sounding advertisements, including one which featured an appearance from his mother clad in oxygen tubing, and Balderson himself stooped to insulting his own would be constituents, saying that "we don't want someone from Franklin County representing us." For the record, O'Connor, along with one third of district residents, are residents of Franklin County. Not even a visit from President Trump himself could help Balderson.
This divisive rhetoric, along with the general controversy and disapproval surrounding the Trump Administration, is almost certainly what could do Balderson in.
But O'Connor also owes his victory to increased Democratic enthusiasm. His canvassing efforts, including those I myself participated in on behalf of the AFL-CIO, far outnumbered Balderson's and this helped to paint O'Connor as a centrist man of the people, one who stood with workers and not with corporations or special interests.
Only time will tell if this momentum will carry Democrats toward the "Blue Wave" they hope for, but for now it seems that Republicans in the Buckeye State, especially those in competitive seats like Steve Chabot and Mike Turner, better watch their backs.
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