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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


On Tuesday, voters in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District went to the polls for the final major special election before the 2018 midterms. And although Republicans seemed to have pulled off a narrow victory and hold onto the seat, the results cannot be encouraging for them.

GOP state Sen. Troy Balderson appeared to squeak out a win over the Democratic nominee, Franklin County recorder Danny O’Connor. As of press time, there could still potentially be a recount, and provisional ballots are outstanding, but neither is expected to change the result. The Republican victory would mean Democrats will still need a net pickup of 23 seats to win the House this fall.

While the Cook Political Report officially called the race for Balderson late Tuesday evening, several other outlets still said it was too close to call.

But the fact that this race was even competitive to begin with casts doubt on Republican prospects of staving off that outcome.

Ohio’s 12th District, vacated by the resignation of GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi, was never even supposed to be in play. The seat, which encompasses the suburbs and towns northeast of Columbus, is a reliably conservative stronghold in a deeply gerrymandered state. Trump carried this district by over 11 points in 2016.

But just as with other special elections in the 2018 cycle where Democrats waged a competitive race on red turf, from Alabama’s Senate seat to Pennsylvania’s 18th District, Republicans started to see danger signs as the election drew nearer. Polls began to show a close race in July, and the GOP frantically dumped money and resources into the district to try to shore up Balderson. Trump himself showed up to campaign, and warned his supporters that O’Connor was “a vote for open borders.”

Balderson, for his part, was hardly a top-notch campaigner. One of his attack ads, in which he accused O’Connor of spending taxpayer money on a life coach, was roundly panned for its dishonesty. He refused to weigh in on the developing Jim Jordan sexual abuse scandal, and literally ran away from one man who tried to question him on the matter. And on the eve of the election, Balderson caused a controversy by insulting Franklin County.

According to CNN’s Eric Bradner, there are roughly 70 House seats held by the GOP which are less conservative than Ohio’s 12th District — considerably more than they would need. And if this race was close, then the battlefield is easily wide enough to make Republicans sweat.

Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)