UPDATE: O'Conner, Balderson neck and neck; Whitmer, Schuette, Marshall, McCaskill, Hawley post wins


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)

Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor are locked in a tight race for a coveted U.S. House seat in Ohio’s congressional special election.

Balderson, a state senator, and O’Connor, the Franklin County recorder, want to complete the term of a Republican who retired in January. The race tests voter sentiment before the general election in November, when Balderson and O’Connor will battle again for the full two-year term.

After an early lead by O’Connor on Tuesday night, he and Balderson were neck and neck.

President Donald Trump campaigned for Balderson, arguing Republicans need to control Congress and casting the midterms as a referendum on himself.

A Balderson victory would buoy Republicans concerned about Trump’s play in political battleground states. An O’Connor win would elate Democrats hoping for Trump backlash.

In primaries in Missouri, Kansas, Michigan and Washington state today,

Gretchen Whitmer has won the Democratic nomination for Michigan governor, besting two competitors to advance to the November race to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

Whitmer, a former legislative leader, defeated chemical-testing businessman Shri Thanedar and ex-Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed in Tuesday’s primary. She will face Attorney General Bill Schuette, who defeated Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines in the GOP primary.

Whitmer was considered the favorite because of her political experience and broad support from organized labor and other key groups. El-Sayed especially courted the party’s more liberal, pro-Bernie Sanders wing, as did Thanedar, who spent millions of dollars of his own money on his campaign.

Schuette beat Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines today. Schuette, a former congressman, state lawmaker and appellate judge, was endorsed by President Donald Trump. He says he would cut the state income tax, like Trump reduced federal taxes.

The Michigan governorship is a top target for the Democratic Party, which is eager to make gains in the Midwest, where Republicans have dominated state governments and which helped President Donald Trump take the White House in 2016.

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall has won the Republican primary in the sprawling rural 1st District of western and central Kansas.

He advances to a November matchup against Democrat Alan LaPolice of Clyde in the heavily Republican agricultural district.

Marshall, a Great Bend physician, first gained national attention in 2016 for knocking off then Rep. Tim Huelskamp in the Republican primary for the seat.

Democrats did not have a candidate in 2016, but LaPolice launched a long-shot bid as an independent. LaPolice, an educator, is taking another shot at it this year running as a Democrat.

While the district strongly supported President Donald Trump in 2016, some worry tougher immigration policies make it harder to fill agricultural jobs. Marshall wants to couple border-security measures with changes in visas for guest farm workers.

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri has won the Democratic primary in her campaign for a third term and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has won the Republican nomination for the seat in one of the nation’s most hotly contested Senate races.

Voters picked McCaskill on Tuesday as expected over six other Democratic challengers and picked Hawley as expected over 10 other GOP challengers in the race. Hawley was the only candidate to have previously won a statewide election and had considerably more money than the other Republicans in the field. He’s backed by President Donald Trump.

Republicans are eyeing the now-Democratic seat as a prime pickup opportunity in a state Trump won by nearly 19 points.

A McCaskill-Hawley matchup is expected to be one of the nation’s top showdowns. McCaskill is running as a moderate in the red state. Hawley is campaigning largely on support for Trump. He is attempting to paint his rival as a liberal obstructionist.

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