Backed candidates in Ohio, Kansas locked in tight races

Troy Balderson Danny O'Connor

But Trevor Moffitt, a public health doctoral student at The Ohio State University who voted for O'Connor, said he felt Balderson's attacks on Democrats went too far.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a leading voice in the GOP's shrinking anti-Trump wing, once represented the district in Congress.

Republicans' narrow lead didn't come cheap.

In the Republican primary for Kansas governor, Trump on Monday endorsed Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state known for his crusade for restrictive voting laws, over incumbent Colyer. The Congressional Leadership Fund has spent almost $3 million on television and radio ads, and the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent another almost $1 million on ads.

The Republican and Democratic primaries for Kansas governor, the Republican primary for Kansas' 2nd Congressional District seat, primaries for local Kansas House of Representatives seats and a Democratic primary for a seat on the Douglas County Commission were among the races that appeared on local ballots.

Trump took credit for the apparent Republican victory, saying on Twitter that Balderson's campaign made "a big turn for the better" after he campaigned for him in the district on Saturday night.

Republican strategists also conceded the race was tougher than initially envisioned.

The president also traveled to the district over the weekend in an attempt to give Mr. Balderson a boost.

Trump won Ohio's 12th Congressional District, for example, by more than 11 points in 2016; on Tuesday night, Balderson and O'Connor were separated by less than 1 point.

However, Tiberi resigned before finishing his term, forcing the special election to replace him.

Several voters casting ballots in suburban Westerville Tuesday, both Democrat and Republican, said they saw little difference between the two candidates.

Mr. Balderson and other Republicans claimed victory late Tuesday night, though no news organizations called the race and there remained an unknown number of provisional ballots still to be counted.

It was dramatic evening of back and forth lead changes between Balderson and O'Connor as the results came in throughout the evening. O'Connor had said he wouldn't vote for Pelosi as leader, but Republicans tried to link the two anyway. It's an enormous amount of exposure for their party and we don't see that for the Republican party.

At times, the race has centered on Trump's tax cuts as much as the candidates.

If Balderson's 1,766 vote margin holds up, Democrats still need a net gain of 23 seats to take back the majority, and Republicans still need to hold on to 61 seats to maintain the majority.

The Democratic race for governor in MI tested the electoral power of the party's progressive wing.

Senate contests in Missouri and MI will come into focus as two vulnerable Senate Democrats, Missouri's Claire McCaskill and Michigan's Debbie Stabenow, are expected to easily claim their party's nominations.

It seems Republican Governor John Kasich's decision to endorse Balderson, who's running for his old seat, in a TV ad during the campaign's final week had a a bigger impact than Trump's visit.

And Kobach - who publicly backed Trump's false claim that millions of people voted illegally in 2016 and who advocates a hard-line approach to immigration - could alienate Republican voters in areas like the Kansas City and Wichita suburbs.

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