Election analyst sees Dem chances improving in Ohio special election

Election analyst sees Dem chances improving in Ohio special election
© Camille Fine

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election analysis organization, has shifted its rating of the next major House special election to a toss-up — another sign that Democrats could make the red-seat race competitive

Cook shifted the rating of Ohio's 12th Congressional District, vacated after former GOP Rep. Patrick Tiberi's resignation earlier this year, from a "lean Republican" seat to a "toss up." 
 
It's the latest ominous sign for House Republicans: Tiberi easily held the district during his 17 years in office, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE won it by 11 points in 2016. But Democrats are targeting highly educated and wealthy districts like the 12th in the hopes that frustration with Trump can pull voters to their side. 
 
The move comes just weeks before the May 8 primary, where voters will cast their ballots in the special election primary as well as the general election primary. Voters need to choose someone to fill Tiberi's term through 2018, as well as their next member for the Congress that starts in 2019. 
 
Crowded fields on both sides of the aisle complicate the handicapping in the race, as it's possible that the winner of each primary will emerge with a relatively low share of the vote. 
 
On the GOP side, state Sen. Troy Balderson has the backing of  Tiberi and the Republican Main Street Partnership. Both have dropped six-figure advertising buys on Balderson's behalf. 
 
Liberty County Trustee Melanie Leneghan has been endorsed by Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDOJ, Commerce slam House Dems contempt vote as 'political stunt' White House blasts 'shameful and cynical' Barr, Ross contempt vote House votes to hold Trump Cabinet members Barr, Ross in contempt MORE, the Ohio Republican who helped found the House Freedom Caucus. She's benefitted from a six-figure effort from the House Freedom Action Fund. 
 
Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien has the backing of state Auditor Dave Yost, while state Sen. Kevin Bacon has been endorsed by the Franklin County GOP. 
 
Tim Kane, a veteran who has worked at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and the conservative Heritage Foundation, has the support of former Secretary of State George Schultz. 
 
Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor leads the fundraising race on the Democratic side — he also has the backing of prominent local members of Congress like Reps. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanThe Hill's Campaign Report: Stage set for second Democratic showdown Biden, Harris set for second Democratic debate showdown 2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally MORE and Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries MORE. Progressive activist John Russell is also running, as is former Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, who is running as a more moderate alternative.