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Troy Balderson ekes out unofficial win, but Danny O’Connor doesn’t concede: Capitol Letter

August 8, 2018

Troy Balderson ekes out unofficial win, but Danny O’Connor doesn’t concede: Capitol Letter

Rotunda Rumblings

Photo finish: The special election for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District ended in a nailbiter Tuesday night, with Republican Troy Balderson edging Democrat Danny O’Connor by 1,754 votes in unofficial results with all precincts reporting. But as cleveland.com’s Jeremy Pelzer and Seth Richardson report, O’Connor refused to concede Tuesday, and news outlets declined to call the race, citing about 8,500 provisional and absentee ballots left to count.

We are the champions: Balderson and other Republicans claimed victory Tuesday night, vowing to keep the seat when Balderson and O’Connor clash again for a full term in November. “Democrats, I’m sure, are going to try and turn this into some sort of moral victory,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers of Upper Arlington, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee. “But last time I checked, moral victories don’t get a vote on the congressional floor.”

Path to victory: While O’Connor won Franklin County, his home county, with 65 percent of the vote, Balderson won every other county. The race came down to Delaware County, which was the last to report its vote totals. Balderson ended up winning the GOP-friendly county by about 4,900 votes.

Trouble on the horizon? Republicans may have won the special election in the 12th District, but that doesn’t necessarily bode well for the upcoming midterms, Richardson writes. While Balderson was able to come out ahead, the margin of victory was close in what should have been an easy district. Other congressional districts around the state could come into play.

Cash from Kasich?: Gov. John Kasich wants to top off the state’s rainy day fund and update state income tax withholding rates so workers see the results of a 2015 tax cut in their paychecks instead of when they file tax returns the following year. The one-time withholding change would cost about $147 million, to come from a projected state revenue surplus. Cleveland.com’s Jackie Borchardt reports that lawmakers didn’t buy into the plan two years ago, and administration officials were mum Tuesday about how to make it happen. 

A “union guy”: Kasich made his remarks after members of the International Union of Operating Engineers honored the Republican governor with a plaque, a jacket and an honorary membership. Kasich, who in 2011 signed legislation to curtail public employee union bargaining rights, tried on the jacket and declared he was a union guy now. “Let me just say this is a long way from Senate Bill 5,” he said, flashing thumbs up and “V” signs ala Richard Nixon. “I wasn’t gonna say that, but what the hell.” 

Fair use footage? Richard Cordray’s campaign says it’s within the law to use archived footage from the state-run Ohio Channel in a new ad. But cleveland.com’s Andrew Tobias reports that state law bars using the service for “political purposes included in campaign materials,” among other purposes. The campaign noted that Attorney General Mike DeWine, Cordray’s Republican opponent in the November gubernatorial election, cited Ohio Channel footage in legal filings and state law also bars use of the footage to “influence a judicial decision.” 

Well, well: DeWine on Tuesday vowed to launch a wellness program if he is elected governor, in an effort to drive down long-term health care costs, Tobias reports. The voluntary program would be modeled after one at the Cleveland Clinic.

Fundraising foible: House Speaker hopeful Jim Jordan hasn’t raised as much money as other Republicans likely to seek the job, according to a new analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics. Fundraising is a key responsibility for the leadership role, writes cleveland.com’s Sabrina Eaton. Jordan’s two-year contribution total of $436,000 lags far behind California’s Kevin McCarthy ($6.6 million) and Louisiana’s Steve Scalise ($4.1 million).

Second-in-command struggle: Ohio’s Mary Taylor is one of five lieutenant governors mentioned in a Washington Post piece about how the position has not translated into a gubernatorial win at the ballot box this year. Taylor lost the May primary to DeWine after trying to distance herself from her two-time running mate, Kasich. An unnamed Ohio GOP operative told reporter James Hohmann that Taylor wasted the opportunity to use the office to cultivate donors from the business community early on. 

Familial favoritism? Hamilton County Democratic Party Co-chair Connie Pillich filed a federal elections complaint against Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, claiming his campaign committee and leadership PAC paid his son-in-law’s firm nearly $175,000 for work that should have cost $33,000, the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Sharon Coolidge and Scott Wartman report. Chabot’s camp says the complaint is an attempt to distract the public from the campaign finance missteps of Democratic opponent Aftab Pureval. 

Fine line: Politifact concluded that Cordray’s assertion is mostly false that his opponent for governor, DeWine, didn’t try to collect a fine for a campaign finance violation. Politifact’s probe revealed that DeWine, as Ohio attorney general, got a court judgment against a PAC that was associated with Betsy DeVos, but that the U.S. education secretary isn’t ultimately responsible to paying it, as Corday has claimed. 

Shame, shame, shame: Both sides of the political aisle are turning to so-called “social pressure mailings” listing voters’ voting history and that of their neighbors. But Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports that some voters are turned off by the mailings that they say are intended to shame voters to the polls. Despite that unease, such mailings seem to work – one of the groups sending them said they increase turnout by 8 percent. 

Full Disclosure

Five things we learned from Supreme Court Justice Richard “Pat” DeWine’s May 9 financial disclosure statement. DeWine, a Republican, is the son of Mike DeWine, the state attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate.

1. DeWine reported as sources of income the Ohio Supreme Court and two family entities – the Ohio Twine Co., where he is a partner, and DeWine Enterprises, where he is a shareholder. He isn’t required to report income. The Supreme Court paid him $163,547 last year, according to the Ohio Treasurer.

2. He own two parcels in Fayette County and 10 parcels in Greene County.

3. His wife, Rhonda DeWine, owns Salon Rhonda, in Cincinnati. 

4. He is a trustee and beneficiary of the R. Patrick DeWine Trust. 

5. At some point in 2017, he owed at least $1,000 to Visa Congressional Federal Credit Union, Bank of America Visa, a Bank of America car loan, Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union and PNC Visa. 

Straight From The Source

“There is no issue other than stopping the left. If he’s a yes man for my guy that’s enough for me.”-Drew Stefanik of Galena, who told the Dispatch’s Maya Kaufman why he voted for Balderson.

“I believe he’s the best choice since we’ve got a lunatic in the White House.”-Donald Smith of Newark, who told the Newark Advocate’s Maria DeVito why he voted for O’Connor. Smith said he voted for Trump in 2016.

Capitol Letter is a daily briefing providing succinct, timely information for those who care deeply about the decisions made by state government. If you do not already subscribe, you can sign up here to get Capitol Letter in your email box each weekday for free.

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