The script for Ohio's special election was somewhat familiar: An experienced Trump loyalist, Balderson, was fighting a strong challenge from O'Connor, a fresh-faced Democrat, in a congressional district held by the Republican Party for more than three decades.
With 100 percent of the precincts counted, Mr. Balderson, a state senator, was clinging to lead of 50.1 percent to 49.2 percent over Mr. O'Connor, Franklin County recorder. He's a moderate Republican who supports a pathway to citizenship for so-called "Dreamers" and wants any Obamacare replacement to include pre-existing conditions regulations.
Although the razor-thin race had not been called by any major news organizations, and was automatically going to a recount, Balderson, 56, delivered a victory speech and both the National Republican Congressional Committee and Trump put out statements declaring victory for their preferred candidate.
Trump made his preference clear for Kobach.
Other Republicans had also rushed to Balderson's aid. "Strong on Crime, Border & Military", the president tweeted on the eve of the election.
After Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's stunning victory in NY against Rep. Joe Crowley, progressives hope to demonstrate that their policies can win over voters in the middle of the country. O'Connor had raised almost $1.5 million and had spent $1.35 million, but had vastly outspent Balderson when it came to television advertising. At one point in the campaign, Balderson couldn't name a single area of disagreement but since cited differences on tariffs and immigration.
He had pulled ahead in one poll, despite the district leaning heavily Republican, with no Democrat having been elected to Congress from there in more than 30 years.More news: Woman Helps Man Short On Cash, Then Finds Out He’s Keith Urban
"I've worked in OH presidential and senate races for Republicans and the idea of #oh12 being a close race is sort of like hearing gravity is a regional phenomena", tweeted Republican strategist Stuart Stevens.
"A loss tonight would be devastating for the GOP - it should not be this close", Republican pollster Frank Luntz said in a tweet.
Democrats, meanwhile, have been attacking Balderson by casting his support of tax cuts as threats to Social Security and Medicare.
According to data obtained by TIME, Balderson had only spent $507,206 on television ads as of August 3, while O'Connor had spent over $2 million.
In Michigan, three mainstream Democrats in suburban Detroit were among those vying for a chance at retiring Republican Rep. Dave Trott's seat in November.
In Missouri, Democratic Sen. He also called out Trump's brand of smash mouth politics - a move that many see as an attempt to court independents and anti-Trump Republicans. Claire McCaskill claimed her party's nomination, while state Attorney General Josh Hawley will represent the GOP.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is expected to take on McCaskill, and in MI, military veteran and business executive John James is vying for the chance to knock off Stabenow. Pat Tiberi resigned earlier this year, has taken on outsized importance for clues as to how big of a blue wave could be forming to help Democrats take back the House come November.