After a string of humiliating losses for the GOP, Pence is signed on to a desperate bid for the party to hang on to a district it's controlled for most of the last century.
Coming off his embarrassing campaign misstep last month in Texas, where he waded into a GOP primary race and endorsed the loser, Vice President Mike Pence is traveling to Ohio this week in hopes of thwarting another possible election black eye for Republicans.
Ohio’s 12th Congressional District is holding a special election in August, giving Democrats another chance to chip away at the GOP’s 23-seat House majority. The non-partisan Cook Political Report currently rates the race as a “Republican toss up.”
While the race has not generated as much attention as some other special elections this year, it is forcing Republicans to play defense in a district that should be an automatic win for them, since the party has held Ohio’s 12th for most of the last century.
Former 12th District incumbent Pat Tiberi, who resigned earlier this year, won the seat by margins as large as nearly 40 points in recent years. And Trump won there by 11 points in 2016.
But now, Pence is being dispatched in hopes of heading off a disaster.
The special election is being called to fill the vacancy created Tiberi, who is part of the large wave of GOP resignations and retirements ahead of the 2018 elections.
Previously, Pence tried to help Republican secure a win in the March special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. He failed. Pence also campaigned in last year’s Virginia governor’s race, which the GOP lost badly. So his track record is not exactly stellar.
The current Republican-controlled Congress has a historically awful approval rating (18 percent), but Democrats continue to run well nationwide in advance of the midterms.
Two new polls show the party boasting large, 10– and 11-point lead in generic polls when voters are asked which party they would to see win in November. (For generic polls, anything above a five-point advantage is considered significant.)
Special elections in the age of Trump continue to be a strain on Republicans. Last month, the GOP secured spectacularly underwhelming performance in Arizona’s 8th District special election, where Republicans spent heavily to pull off a narrow victory in a very red state.
That same district voted for Trump by 21 points a year-and-a-half earlier.
The GOP knows very few districts are truly safe these days.