Mike Pence is heading back to Ohio to try to save a hotly contested House seat Republicans have held since 1982.
Mike Pence is making a second trip to a hotly contested Ohio special election district to campaign for Republican Troy Balderson. Pence’s visit comes as Democratic voters are outpacing Republicans in early voting in a traditionally Republican district Trump carried by 11 points.
Republicans appear increasingly nervous about the special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, located outside Columbus, that takes place Aug. 7. The area has been represented by a Republican since 1982, and in a normal election year would likely be considered a safe Republican seat.
But this is not a normal election year, evident by Pence’s second trip to the district to try to rally support for a floundering Balderson campaign.
Since Trump took office, Republicans have lost support in every single special election. According to the New York Times, “Republican voters appear demoralized while Democrats are fired up, and some voters who typically lean Republican have been shifting away from the party.”
Since Trump took office, Democrats have picked up a U.S. Senate seat in deep red Alabama, won an historic number of seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, and flipped a heavily Republican Pennsylvania district in a special election in March.
Democrats hope to continue that streak in August.
In announcing his second campaign trip, Pence promised Balderson will “be a fighter for President Trump’s agenda that’s got our economy roaring!”
Pence failed to mention that nationally, wages are lower today than before the Republican tax bill passed into law. Meanwhile, Trump’s agenda has been a boon for wealthy corporate executives and rich Wall Street investors. Balderson, according to Pence, wants to embrace that agenda.
Balderson is a state senator with a voting record that includes trying to take health insurance away from half a million Ohioans. His Democratic opponent, Danny O’Connor, is the son of a breast cancer survivor and has made health care one of the central tenets of his campaign.
Balderson not only trails in early votes, but also trails in fundraising. His campaign has struggled with several high-profile scandals that may be impacting his support.
Balderson initially declined to return campaign funds (to his state campaign account, not his congressional campaign) from the founder of the defunct online school, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT). While many Republicans quickly returned the contributions, Balderson repeatedly refused to do so, until he eventually relented to mounting public pressure.
More recently, Balderson has refused to distance himself from scandal-plagued Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio congressman accused by multiple people of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse of students when he was a wrestling coach at Ohio State University. Jordan has endorsed Balderson and helped raise money for the campaign, and Balderson refuses to speak about Jordan’s recent bid to lead the Republican Party.
It remains to be seen if Pence can help the lagging Balderson campaign. But his repeated presence shows a Republican Party fearing yet another loss in yet another traditionally Republican area.