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Trump-backed Republican clings to narrow lead in US House race in Ohio

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Democratic candidate Danny O'Connor addresses supporters at his election night party for a special election in Ohio's 12th congressional district in Westerville, Ohio, US on Tuesday.

Reuters, Ohio :
A Republican clung to a narrow lead in a hotly contested US House of Representatives race in Ohio late on Tuesday, holding off a strong challenge in the reliably Republican district after a late show of support from President Donald Trump.
Republican Troy Balderson led Democrat Danny O'Connor by about 1,700 votes with all precincts reporting, although the Ohio secretary of state's office said a final result would be delayed until more than 8,000 provisional and absentee ballots were counted.
The close race in the Ohio special election became a referendum on Trump's leadership and a last chance to gauge Democratic strength ahead of November's midterm elections.
The narrow margin will be little comfort for Republicans anxious about the prospect of a Democratic wave heading into the Nov. 6 elections, and it is certain to encourage Democrats who performed dramatically better than expected in a district Republicans have represented since the early 1980s.
The central Ohio race was the marquee contest on a day when four other states held nominating contests, including a battle for governor in Michigan in which a mainstream candidate beat a progressive, and a high-profile conservative challenge to the incumbent Republican governor in Kansas.
The Ohio contest drew an avalanche of national attention in recent weeks as polls showed it tightening, with Republicans and their allies outspending Democratic groups by more than 4 to 1 and running ads linking O'Connor to liberal House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
O'Connor, a local county official, tried to project a moderate image, saying he would support new Democratic leadership in Congress and work with Republicans but also criticizing the Trump tax cut.
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.
Balderson told supporters in Ohio: "I'd like to thank President Trump."
Other Republicans had also rushed to Balderson's aid. Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Trump critic, endorsed Balderson and Vice President Mike Pence visited.
Trump won the district by 11 percentage points in the White House race in 2016 and Republican Pat Tiberi won re-election to the House by a whopping 37 percentage points.
However, Tiberi resigned before finishing his term, forcing the special election to replace him. O'Connor and Balderson will face off again in November to serve a full two-year term.

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