GOP House Candidate Insults Entire Ohio County on Eve of Election
As voters in Ohio's 12th Congressional District head to the polls on Tuesday to vote in the last major special election before the 2018 midterms, they have something new to think about: Republican candidate and state Sen. Troy Balderson does not think highly of Franklin County.
In a video posted by ZanesViral Media at a GOP rally on Monday night, just hours before the polls were slated to open, Balderson attacked the Democratic candidate, Danny O'Connor, based on where he lives.
"My opponent is from Franklin County and Franklin County has been challenging for us," he said. "We don't want someone from Franklin County representing us."
Franklin County, where O'Connor serves as county recorder, includes Columbus, the largest city in Ohio. It is the most Democratic part of Ohio's 12th District, which consists of Columbus's northeast suburbs and stretches to Mansfield and Zanesville.
"One of the reasons I love crisscrossing our district is because whether I’m in Zanesville, Mansfield, Delaware, Dublin, or anywhere in between, I find that the folks I talk to are all worried about the same issues," said O'Connor in a statement responding to the controversy. "This district deserves someone who is going to represent all of us and fight for our priorities in Washington, and Mr. Balderson just made it pretty clear that’s not him."
In the most ironic twist, Pat Tiberi — the former Republican congressman who resigned and triggered the special election in the first place — was from Franklin County himself.
The controversy has echoes of the final hours of the special election for Pennsylvania's 18th District, in which Republican candidate Rick Saccone proclaimed his political opponents hate God and America. Saccone went on to lose that race to Democratic Marine veteran and prosecutor Conor Lamb, who is now running for a full term.
Ohio's 12th District is reliably conservative in most years, having backed Trump for president by 11 points. But the special election has proven fiercely competitive, with the final poll showing O'Connor ahead by a single point.
So Balderson writing off an entire county may prove to be poor judgment.