Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez Wednesday cheered the tight race in Ohio’s hotly contested 12th Congressional District, noting that just two years ago, the Republican who ran for the seat won by more than 30 points.
“Here we are in a dead heat, a rematch in 90 days, and healthcare will be squarely on the ballot,” Perez told CNN’s “New Day” about the race pitting Republican Troy Balderson against Democrat Danny O’Connor.
Balderson holds a slim lead of 1,754 votes, but about 8,000 provisional ballots have not yet been counted. However, President Donald Trump, who campaigned for Balderson in Ohio, congratulated him on his win over O’Connor.
No matter who wins the race, they will square off again in November for the opportunity to fill the seat for a full term.
Perez said Wednesday that the Republican nominee for Ohio governor, Mike DeWine, “wants to undo Medicaid expansion” and so does Balderson.
“[There is] incredible energy on the ground there among Democrats,” said Perez. “There will be a much bigger turn out in November because you’ve got a statewide election there in Ohio.”
He said gerrymandering also helped Balderson gain his lead in the race.
Meanwhile, Perez said there are 60 House seat races around the country that are even more competitive.
“I look at the landscape not only in that district, but across America,” he said. “People want candidates who are going to be fighting for healthcare, Social Security and Medicare. People want candidates who are trying to bring people together.”
The Ohio race, he added, gives him optimism about other races for the House, Senate, and for governors’ seats.
“When you have 60 or 68 seats more competitive, and you have the benefit of additional turnout, and the energy on the ground, and the enthusiasm across the country, and then most importantly, we’re fighting for the issues that people care about,” said Perez. “We want people to make sure they can keep their healthcare.”
Perez laughed, though, when asked if he agrees with Trump’s comment that there was a “big turn for the better” after he came to Ohio to campaign for Balderson.
“I apologize for laughing, but that is a laughable proposition,” said Perez. “The election in 2018 is about the need for guard rails. We have a Republican House and Republican Senate that are not at all putting any guardrails on this president. There is no accountability with this president The culture of corruption in Washington is over the top.”
And in Ohio, “we saw a race that we had no business winning, that required $5 million of Republican money, a visit from the president.”
Meanwhile, he would not join in other Democrats’ criticism of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who expects to run for House Speaker should Democrats win control of the chamber.
“Nancy Pelosi is responsible for the passage of the Affordable Care Act,” said Perez. “We would not have coverage for some people without the leadership of Nancy Pelosi. Millions of Americans are in better shape because of that.”
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