In the run for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, the crowded field of 18 candidates was narrowed to three during Tuesday’s primary election.
Joe Manchik (G) now faces an uphill campaign against Danny O’Connor (D) and Troy Balderson (R) in both the August special election to finish out Pat Tiberi’s unexpired term and in the Nov. 6 general election.
Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, resigned from Congress in January to take a position as the new head of the Ohio Business Roundtable. Tiberi’s term expires Jan. 3, 2019.
In the run to finish out the term of the unoccupied seat, Balderson received 29.20 percent of the vote in the GOP primary, O’Connor received 40.89 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, and Manchik was unopposed in the Green Party primary. For the general election in November, O’Connor and Manchik received the same percentages with Balderson slightly lower with 28.72 percent in the overall vote.
In the heated battle on the GOP side for the 12th district seat, Melanie Leneghan, R-Powell, nipped at Balderson’s heals throughout the race. Once the polls closed and the votes were counted, Leneghan was about one percentage point behind Balderson for both the August special election and the November general election.
Leneghan said she didn’t have an official comment but expressed how humbled she was by the outpouring of support and encouragement she received from the counties. She said she was very surprised at winning her home county of Delaware, considering her main opponent was an elected official of the county.
“I would like to thank the hundreds of volunteers and supporters for believing in my commitment to restoring respect for the people in Washington,” she said. “I would encourage everyone to continue to pray for our country. I’m looking forward to continuing our efforts in Liberty Township to respect our residents and to treat their money as if it was our own, and to provide great services as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
Leneghan said she was suspicious of Muskingum County where Troy Balderson received 80 percent of the votes in a 10-candidate field. She was the second highest percentage winner in Muskingum County, receiving only 11.20 percent with the rest of the field receiving single digits or lower.
“Muskingum County wasn’t in line with the other counties,” she said. “We have not conceded the race, and we’ll take a look at everything once the final count is made.”
However, all-in-all, Leneghan said, “I was outspent by Pat Tiberi and the ‘Swamp.’”
Tm Kane, a native central Ohioan, moved back to Dublin less than a year ago only after convincing his wife “how awesome Ohio is.” He said he entered the race for the 12th district seat because he is “drawn to service.”
Kane received between 16 and 17 percent of the vote for both the special and the general elections, maintaining a third-place finish.
“I was honestly surprised, but the voters had their say,” he said. “However, I think Troy Balderson will stand behind what he said during his campaign.”
Kane said he thought an article from the Columbus Dispatch hurt the race because it framed it as only two candidates running, and the voters had to make a decision.
“Despite all the rhetoric, all the candidates were conservative,” he said. “There was a lot of negative rhetoric, but we never engaged in it.”
Carol O’Brien, Delaware County prosecutor, pulled into second behind Leneghan in Delaware County and maintained fourth overall in the race. She said she enjoyed meeting and talking to the people of the district, but at the end of the day, no matter what the outcome, she still has a job she loves.
“It was an amazing adventure,” she said. “I learned so much about the area and the 12th district, but tomorrow (Thursday), I’ll be back in the office doing what I do, representing the folks of Delaware County.”
Attempts by The Gazette to reach Balderson’s campaign for comment were unsuccessful.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.