Competition fierce for open mid-Ohio congressional district
COLUMBUS (AP) — A rare opening for a U.S. House seat in central Ohio that Republicans have held for 35 years and which Democrats now see as competitive has attracted 18 candidates.
Republican Pat Tiberi retired from the 12th congressional district in January after nearly 18 years, setting off a flurry of competition for the vacancy in a perennial bellwether state. Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich had held the seat for 18 years before that.
Democrat Conor Lamb’s razor-thin victory earlier this month in a Pennsylvania congressional district that heavily supported GOP President Donald Trump is buoying Democrats’ hopes they can take control of the Ohio district.
Tiberi was among a group of establishment Republicans who left office or announced their retirements from Congress under Trump. Many of the districts, like Tiberi’s, are solidly Republican but are now seen as politically vulnerable.
The 12th district sprawls across urban, suburban and rural areas stretching from Mansfield in the north central part of the state to Lima in the west. It spans one of Ohio’s most conservative counties and portions of the Democratic-friendly state capital.
Two separate primaries will be on May ballots. One is for the remainder of Tiberi’s unexpired term and the second is for the full two-year term beginning in January.
Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson, of Zanesville, so far is dominating the money race on the GOP side. He reported last month raising $125,000, more than all the other GOP candidates combined.
Balderson’s campaign has an ad that will begin airing on broadcast television Monday, the first of any candidate in the race.
He faces fellow state Sen. Kevin Bacon, of Minerva Park, and Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien, among others.
Among contenders on the Democratic side that are getting attention are Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor; former Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott; and John Russell, a farmer and small business owner from Galena who has reported raising about $20,000 without accepting corporate contributions.
Some party insiders opposed a decision by the Franklin County Democratic Party to pick a favorite — O’Connor — in the race. A late entrant, he also has landed the support of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and others. Other counties in the district have so far decided not to endorse.
The Green Party has one candidate, Joe Manchik.