Prizm News / July 10, 2018 / By Bob Vitale
Congressional candidate Danny O’Connor (left) and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther talk to supporters at the Franklin County voting center. (Prizm photo)

Early voting is under way in the Aug. 7 race in the state’s 12th Congressional District.

By Bob Vitale

As early voting started today in an Ohio special election for Congress that’s being watched nationally, the Human Rights Campaign weighed in with an endorsement for the LGBTQ-friendly Democratic candidate.

“If you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve to get ahead, no matter what zip code you’re from, who you love, or how you identify,” said Danny O’Connor, who’s running in the Aug. 7 election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.

The 12th district includes parts of seven counties: Delaware, Franklin, Licking, Marion, Morrow, Muskingum and Richland. It includes part of Columbus; the suburbs of Dublin, New Albany, Powell and Westerville; and the cities of Delaware, Granville, Mansfield, Newark and Pataskala.

“It’s my honor to be an ally of our proud LGBTQ community and their loved ones, and I’m humbled to be endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign and the women and men who came before them in the fight for equality. We’ve got to defend that legacy, and I stand ready to fight for equality as a member of Congress.”  

In-person early voting started today in the seven counties that make up the district. O’Connor and his supporters rallied outside the Franklin County Board of Elections voting site on Morse Road in Columbus.

“Every day the rest of the way is game day,” he said.

O’Connor, who was elected as Franklin County recorder in 2016, is a lawyer who has specialized in family law. In 2015, he and his law partner contributed to a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers in favor of marriage equality.

He’s running against Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson of Zanesville, who calls himself a strong supporter of President Donald Trump and a devout church elder who believes that “strong leadership means…relying on His word on a daily basis.”

Balderson wants to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which includes provisions against anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and he vows to defund Planned Parenthood, which is also a big provider of services to LGBTQ people nationwide.

“In order to change Washington, we need to change the people we sent to Washington,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther told voters this afternoon. Ginther is a resident of Columbus’ Clintonville neighborhood, which is part of the 12th District.

Although O’Connor downplays the national significance of the race—he says a recent day knocking on doors yielded more questions about infrastructure than the president’s escapades—its implications are inescapable.

National pundits have compared O’Connor’s campaign to that of Conor Lamb, a Democrat who won a Pennsylvania congressional seat in a special election early this year. Like Ohio’s 12th District, the Pennsylvania area that Lamb now represents in Washington was carried by Trump in 2016 and had previously elected Republicans to the U.S. House.

O’Connor and Balderson are competing to replace Republican Pat Tiberi, who resigned in January to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable. The winner will represent the district until January. The two candidates are competing in a separate race this November to serve in the U.S. House for the next two years.