Door-Knocking Democrat Tries to Break G.O.P. Grip in Ohio Special Election

completely new ALBANY, Ohio — There was a pitiable chance of success when Danny O’Connor knocked on Tami Halliday’s door Thursday morning to ask for her vote. All the data showed in which Mr. O’Connor, a Democrat running in an August special election for a House seat here, was all however wasting his time.

however when Ms. Halliday asked him his stance on gun control, things got brighter fast. Mr. O’Connor said he favored an assault weapons ban, along with preventing people with domestic violence records in addition to mental illness issues coming from having guns. “Do you take money coming from the N.R.A.?” she asked. “No,” Mr. O’Connor replied. “I have an ‘F’ rating coming from the N.R.A.”

With in which, Ms. Halliday, who voted for President Trump in 2016, said she would certainly vote for Mr. O’Connor.

The special election in a region in which stretches coming from the affluent suburbs of Columbus to the Appalachian foothills east of Zanesville could be the next big test of the vaunted “blue wave” brewing for November. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race a tossup.

however Mr. O’Connor, 31, will need hundreds, if not thousands, of Tami Hallidays to win on Aug. 7 in a district in which has not elected a Democrat since 1980. Republicans are confident in which they can blunt the Democrats’ momentum in addition to dampen liberal energy which has a win here.

Mr. O’Connor’s Republican challenger, Troy Balderson, 57, an understated state senator, will be coming from a more rural part of the district, in addition to he says in which he can relate to his constituents’ struggles. The candidates are running to replace Representative Pat Tiberi, a pro-business, old-line Republican who stepped down in frustration before his term ended to take a position with the Ohio Business Roundtable. In an odd twist, regardless of who wins in three weeks, the two will face each some other again in November.

“I don’t know if the race will be a microcosm of what will be going on inside the country, however in which’s probably close,” said Gary Walters, the clerk of courts in Licking County, who backs Mr. Balderson. “You have a big-city Democrat opposing a modest-town rural conservative.”

What does he like about Mr. Balderson? “He’s a Republican,” he said, “in addition to in which’s enough here for me.”

At a breakfast forum on Thursday at the completely new Albany Country Club, with its high ceilings in addition to portraiture of dogs in addition to horses, the candidates engaged in civil debate in addition to essentially staked out orthodox positions of their parties. Mr. Balderson, who strongly supports Mr. Trump, tried nonetheless to distance himself coming from the president’s policies on trade, which he said would certainly hurt the region’s farmers, in addition to on separating migrant children coming from their families at the border.

“I don’t support family separation,” Mr. Balderson said. “in which was not right. in which was not the way in which country was made.” He does support the president’s push for a border wall in addition to highlights his “A” rating coming from the N.R.A.

Both candidates seemed to go out of their way to praise Ohio’s governor, John R. Kasich, with Mr. Balderson referring to him as “our great governor.” Mr. Kasich, an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, has not endorsed his fellow Republican. Mr. O’Connor, the Franklin County recorder, received an unanticipated boost when The Columbus Dispatch, which has a traditionally conservative editorial page, endorsed him.

“By all accounts, both O’Connor in addition to Balderson are decent, successful men who would certainly work hard for voters of the 12th District,” The Dispatch wrote. “however one supports a reasonable, thoughtful approach to addressing the important issues facing Congress in addition to our country, in addition to the some other supports a president who uses tactics in addition to pushes policies in which in which Editorial Board has denounced.”

While limited public polling shows Mr. Balderson which has a lead inside the race, Mr. O’Connor said he was encouraged by early voting numbers, in which he has an edge in traditional Republican areas, in addition to by energy shown coming from progressive groups. The race will be also in flux because turnout in any special election will be difficult to forecast, in addition to in which one falls during summer vacation season.

Mr. Balderson, who declined a request for an interview, has tried to paint Mr. O’Connor as a far-left liberal who would certainly simply do the bidding of the House Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi, if elected. Mr. O’Connor said he was puzzled by those attacks because he has vowed not to vote for Ms. Pelosi to lead House Democrats if he will be sent to Washington.

The completely new Albany area, with its affluence in addition to concentration of college-educated voters, represents the kind of area where Democrats must do well inside the midterm elections if they are to recapture the House. The suburbs north of Columbus are pulsating with growth in addition to prosperity.

Door-knocking, on one level, will be an inherently inefficient way to campaign. however the way Mr. O’Connor assessed in which, if he had won over Ms. Halliday, who said her views on gun control stemmed coming from her desire to protect her two daughters, then she may well talk to her friends in addition to post something on Facebook — in addition to, if he will be fortunate, he will have 10 completely new votes instead of one.

Phil Jones voted for Barack Obama in 2008 in addition to Mr. Trump in 2016. An executive at Nationwide Insurance, he told Mr. O’Connor in which the most important issues for him were the national debt in addition to overhauling immigration laws. Mr. Jones said he did not care for Mr. Trump’s manners, however he did like the president’s tax plan because his company gave workers a bonus in addition to increased its 401(k) contribution.

Mr. Jones said he wanted someone who was willing to be bipartisan, then said to Mr. O’Connor, “I think in which’s one of your pitches in your commercials.”

“If you are willing to do what you say in your commercials then you absolutely have my vote,” he promised.

Mr. O’Connor, who rarely misses a chance to tell voters in which he will be engaged to a Republican, readily said he would certainly.

After a couple more stops to meet with supporters, Mr. O’Connor drove an hour east to Zanesville, Mr. Balderson’s hometown in addition to a strongly Republican area. Mr. O’Connor went there to meet which has a few retired mine workers for a beer.

They did not show up.