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Trump to visit Ohio to campaign in special House election

Trump to visit Ohio to campaign in special House election

President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE is due to visit Ohio and campaign for Republican House candidate Troy Balderson, who is seeking to keep what’s been a reliably Republican House seat in GOP hands.

Trump's campaign announced that he will hold a rally in the state's 12th District in the Columbus suburbs on Saturday night. The Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported the news late Tuesday.

"Troy is honored to have President Trump in Delaware County on Saturday to remind people to vote on August 7th and he is proud to be endorsed by President Trump, Vice President Pence, Governor John Kasich, and former Congressman Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiOhio New Members 2019 Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress GOP Rep. Balderson holds onto seat in Ohio MORE,” said Balderson campaign manager Jenna Knepper.

“Troy has a proven record of cutting taxes, balancing budgets, and fighting for the middle class, and he will work with the President to make the middle class tax cuts permanent, something Dishonest Danny O'Connor refuses to do."

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Polls show a tightening race between Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor in the Aug. 7 special election for retired Rep. Pat Tiberi’s (R-Ohio) seat, which has been held by Republicans since 1980. Trump carried the district by 11 points in 2016.

The president is jumping into the fray in Ohio after indicating he wants to be a frequent campaigner in the midterms, saying he’ll start to hit the trail “six or seven days a week” about 60 days out from the elections.

Republicans who spoke with The Hill said they think the president would be a boon if he campaigns for Balderson, a state senator. They believe the president could help energize base voters who are critical in low-turnout, special elections.

“The president in the Ohio 12th he won by 11 points, I don’t think the polling there should or would dissuade the president coming in. I think it’d be great if he came in,” said Michael Hartley, the 2010 deputy campaign manager for Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R). He spoke to The Hill before news of Trump's visit.

While Republicans have been eager for a Trump visit, the president hasn’t been the subject of many GOP ads.

The Congressional Leadership Fund has sought to tie O’Connor to House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCowboys for Trump founder arrested following Capitol riot Retired Army general: 'We can't have demonstrators showing up at a state Capitol with damn long guns' Graham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and the “liberal resistance.”

Balderson’s ads have focused on defining him as a “problem solver” who’s worked on local issues, and sought to cut taxes along side Kasich — who has endorsed Balderson.

The super PAC’s latest ad features Kasich, an outspoken Trump critic who represented the district from 1983 to 2001. Ohio Republicans say that support from both Trump and Kasich is key to winning different parts of the Republican electorate.

“I don’t think it’s any secret the governor and president can be on a different page sometimes, but the fact that they’re both all in [for Balderson] speaks volumes,” said GOP state Rep. Scott Ryan, who represents a legislative district in the 12th District.

There could be pitfalls to a Trump visit.

If Balderson loses, the president would be left with egg on his face and Democrats will be sure to crow loudly.

Trump hasn’t taken as heavy-handed an approach to general election contests since campaigning for Republican Rick Saccone in a Pennsylvania special election in March.

Saccone ended up losing in a upset to Democrat Conor Lamb in a district Trump carried by about 20 points.

Since then, Trump had favored robocalls in special elections and more vocal support for Republicans running in contested primaries, where the president’s support has often been an asset for the winners.

Democrats believe that Trump ramping up his involvement in the Ohio special election could end up backfiring.

They argue that the Republican voters who will decide the race are suburbanites who fit the profile of educated voters often turned off by Trump. The district is the most well-educated and affluent seat in Ohio.

“He can’t help him with the people who may be thinking about voting for O’Connor because they don’t like Trump,” said Jim Ruvolo, a former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.It may in fact encourage more of those people to vote for O’Connor.”

Democrats, however, aren’t bashing Trump themselves in the district. And O’Connor in some ads has mentioned his willingness to work with the president. He’s largely focused his messaging on protecting Medicare and Social Security and talking about his pledge to not take corporate PAC money.

Polls in June had Balderson up by double digits, but internal polls from Democrats predict a much tighter race.

GBA Strategies, which conducted a poll for O’Connor, found him trailing Balderson by 3 points. Among people “almost certain” to vote, it found him with a lead, 51 to 46 percent.

That’s in line with a poll from End Citizens United, a Democratic group backing those who support campaign finance reform, that has O’Connor down 4 points, but up 1 point among likely voters.

Democrats also have a lead in early voting. As of Sunday, The Columbus Dispatch reported that nearly three times as many Democrats requested mail absentee ballots as Republicans and 87 percent of in-person votes have been cast for Democrats.

Republicans tend to make up that deficit at the polls on Election Day, though the figures will have Democrats hoping it shows greater enthusiasm among their voters.

O'Connor has attracted some Democrats to campaign for him, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs Streamlining the process of prior authorization for medical and surgical procedures MORE (Ohio) has also campaigned with the Ohio candidate, while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden to tap Rohit Chopra to lead CFPB, Gensler for SEC chair: reports Biden tax-hike proposals face bumpy road ahead Porter loses seat on House panel overseeing financial sector MORE (D-Mass.) sent two fundraising emails.

Suburban women could end up deciding the contest, another factor that Democrats think could give them an edge — especially because of Trump. And it’s a reason they think a Trump visit could backfire.

“The key is going to be women in the suburbs who lean Republican: are they going to vote for O’Connor or feel more comfortable which is voting for a Republican?” said Ruvolo. “I think that’s the big unknown.”

Updated at 10:15 a.m.