In a last-minute effort before an August 7 special election, President Donald Trump will travel to the Delaware County Fair Coliseum north of Columbus Saturday to campaign for Republican Troy Balderson, who is running neck and neck with his Democrat challenger Danny O'Connor.
The move shows the GOP's concern for the race in Ohio's 12th Congressional District, which is up for grabs after U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi announced he would leave last year. The district has generally been safely Republican — it went to Trump by 11 percentage points in 2016 — but strong campaigning by O'Connor and dissatisfaction with Trump have put the race in play.
Republicans have been marshaling resources into the district and shoring up Balderson's bid. Vice President Mike Pence visited the district Monday to campaign for the state senator. And Trump has tweeted his blessing for Balderson.
@Troy_Balderson of Ohio is running for Congress - so important to the Republican Party," Trump wrote in a series of tweets. "Troy is strong on crime and Borders, loves our Military, our Vets and our Second Amendment. Troy will strongly protect your Social Security and Medicare! Cast your early vote, or vote on August 7th, Election Day. He has my full and total Endorsement!"
But O'Connor, a moderate Democrat currently serving as an elected official for Delaware County, has hung stubbornly alongside Balderson in the polls, the most recent of which shows the race too close to call. Republicans hope Trump's visit puts Balderson over the edge — but it's unclear whether the president will be a sum total asset or liability in an area where O'Connor is banking on moderate suburban Republicans fatigued by Trump and where both candidates seem more focused on displaying their middle-of-the-road credentials.
In an odd twist of fate, Trump will visit Ohio to stump for Balderson the same day as Stormy Daniels, the adult entertainer who Trump allegedly paid off to keep quiet about an affair between the two. Daniels will be performing at a strip club outside of Dayton.