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Donald Trump’s candidates gain narrow leads at US Congressional elections

Republicans held the slimmest of leads in a special election for an Ohio congressional seat that they have held for decades, but were quick to claim victory, eager to wrap up a contest that could set them up badly for the upcoming midterm polls.

world Updated: Aug 09, 2018 14:06 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,US Congressional elections,Republicans
United States President Donald Trump has already declared victory. (Reuters/File Photo)

Republicans held the slimmest of leads in a special election for an Ohio congressional seat that they have held for decades, but were quick to claim victory, eager to wrap up a contest that could set them up badly for the upcoming midterm polls.

The results were too close to call at the end of the counting on Tuesday night.

President Donald Trump, who endorsed the candidate and campaigned for him, has already declared victory.

Kansas state also reported a close fight in the Republican primary for the party’s nomination for governorship, which remained unresolved till Wednesday.

If Kris Kobach loses, he could end the streak of wins for nominees endorsed by Trump.

Missouri and Michigan also held their primaries for state and federal offices for the midterm polls in November at which Democrats hope to take control of the House of Representatives and the Senate from Republicans.

But all eyes were on the Ohio by-election to fill a vacant seat in which Republican Troy Balderson led his Democratic rival Danny O’Connor by only 1,754 votes, a lead of 1 percentage point.

Over 3,400 provisional ballots and 5,000 absentee ballots remained to be counted, a process that could take days or weeks. And the state’s laws call for automatic recount if the margin separating the candidates is less than half a percentage point.

Republicans could still win. But they couldn’t wait in their hurry to get past an electoral contest they had feared could go the other way, specially if it reflected disillusionment among constituents who had been committed Republican supporters and voters for decades.

Trump not only declared victory prematurely but went on to claim credit for it in a tweet: “When I decided to go to Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting 64 to 36. That was not good. After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting. He will win BIG in Nov.”

He added: “Congratulations to Troy Balderson on a great win in Ohio. A very special and important race!”

But it did not look like a win to some Republicans, who warned that a slim victory should serve as a wake-up call for the upcoming midterm. Their party has held that seat — Ohio 12— for 35 years; it has generally polled more Republican than the rest of the country and Trump himself won it by 11 points (10,000 votes) in the 2016 elections.

O’Connor, the Democratic candidate who was nicknamed “Danny Boy” by the president, had not conceded the contest and has said he was ready to battle on. “We made our case for change,” he told supporters on Tuesday night. “We’re going to make that case tomorrow. Tomorrow we rest and we keep fighting through to November.” The seat goes back to polls in November with the rest of the House of Representatives.

First Published: Aug 09, 2018 02:38 IST