Ohio state senator retains GOP hold on open US House seat

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A two-term Ohio state senator who was backed by both President Donald Trump and Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik), a Trump critic, has won a congressional special election, retaining a coveted open House seat for Republicans.

Voters picked Sen. Troy Balderson, of Zanesville, over Democratic Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor to complete the unexpired term of ex-U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, who retired in January. Balderson will face O'Connor again in November for a full two-year term.

SEE ALSO: Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Urban Meyer: 'I hope he can get his reputation back'

The gridlocked race decided Friday was a test of voter sentiment before November's general election.

Balderson's victory buoys Republicans concerned about how Trump is playing in swing states. But O'Connor was a long shot in the district, held by Republicans for nearly 35 years.

The Republican Kasich represented the district before Tiberi.

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Ohio special election -- Danny O'Connor and Troy Balderson
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Ohio special election -- Danny O'Connor and Troy Balderson
NEWARK, OH - AUGUST 07: Supporters of Republican congressional candidate Troy Balderson watch early returns in Ohio's special election for the 12th Congressional District at Balderson's election night party at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on August 7, 2018 in Newark, Ohio. Voters in Ohio's 12th Congressional District are choosing between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson for Congress in today's special election. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
Democratic candidate Danny O'Connor, in Ohio's 12th congressional district, speaks with the media after casting his vote during Tuesday's special election in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Republican candidate Troy Balderson, in Ohio's 12th congressional district, waits to greet voters at a polling station during the special election in Newark, Ohio, U.S., August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Children wave U.S. flags at an election night party for Democratic candidate Danny O?Connor in a special congressional election in Ohio?s 12th district, in Westerville, Ohio, U.S., August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Democratic candidate Danny O'Connor, in Ohio's 12th congressional district, walks with his fiancee Spenser Stafford to a polling station to cast his his vote during Tuesday's special election in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Republican candidate Troy Balderson, in Ohio's 12th congressional district, shakes hands with a voter at a polling station during the special election in Newark, Ohio, U.S., August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A sign for Democratic candidate Danny O'Connor, in Ohio's 12th congressional district, is seen outside a house ahead of Tuesday's special election in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., August 6, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 07: Charmon Barnes makes a sign to direct voters at a polling place on August 7, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Voters in Ohio's 12th Congressional District are choosing between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson for congress in today's special election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Ohio Senator Troy Balderson goes in for the handshake with U.S. President Donald Trump during a Make America Great Again rally in Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center, OH, U.S., August 4, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
NEWARK, OH - AUGUST 07: Voters head to the polls at the Licking County Family YMCA to vote in the special election for Ohio's 12th District on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 in Newark, Ohio. Voters in Ohio's 12th Congressional District are choosing between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson for Congress in today's special election. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OH - AUGUST 07: Troy Balderson, the Republican congressional candidate, stops briefly at Genoa Baptist Church to greet voters participating in the special election for Ohio's 12th District on August 7, 2018 in Westerville, Ohio. Voters in Ohio's 12th Congressional District are choosing between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson for congress in today's special election. (Photo by Justin Merriman/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - AUGUST 07: Ohio Democratic congressional candidate Danny O'Connor speaks to reporters after casting his vote in the special election on August 7, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. O'Connor is in a close race with Republican challenger Troy Balderson for Ohio's 12th Congressional District which is being decided in today's election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
NEWARK, OH - AUGUST 06: Ohio Democratic congressional candidate Danny O'Connor visits the River Road Coffeehouse while campaigning on August 6, 2018 in Newark, Ohio. O'Connor is in a dead heat race against Republican challenger Troy Balderson for tomorrow's special election in Ohio's 12th Congressional District. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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