June 18th, 2024

Rulli’s win in Ohio will grow GOP’s razor-thin majority in the US House

By Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press on June 11, 2024.

FILE - Michael Rulli, center, Ohio Senate Republican from the 33rd District, speaks with colleagues at the Ohio State House Senate Chambers in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Joe Maiorana, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Republican state Sen. Michael Rulli won a special election Tuesday in eastern Ohio for a U.S. House seat that has sat vacant for months, expanding the GOP’s narrow majority in the congressional chamber.

Rulli, 55, defeated Democrat Michael Kripchak to fill the remainder of Republican Bill Johnson’s unexpired term. The two face off again Nov. 5 for a full two-year congressional term that begins in January.

Rulli’s single-digit victory was much closer than earlier GOP performances in Ohio’s 6th District. Johnson won his last four elections by more than 30 percentage points. Trump also carried the district by roughly 30 percentage points in 2020. While this was a special election held in the summer, when turnout traditionally dips, the results could offer hope for Democrats looking to be competitive this fall in Ohio and neighboring Pennsylvania.

“We knew the polls were gong to be close, and the guy I ran against really worked. He’s a really hard worker,” Rulli said. “But this is a blue-collar district, this is Bruce Springstein, the forgotten man, “˜Joe Bag of Donuts.’ They don’t trust the Democrats and Republicans, and they look at the individual. And I’m really good at retail politics.”

The second-term state senator is from Salem in Ohio’s Mahoning Valley, where he directs operations for his family’s 100-year-old chain of grocery stores.

Kripchak, 42, of Youngstown, served in the U.S. Air Force, and has done stints as an actor and in interactive telecommunications. He currently works at a local restaurant.

Johnson resigned in January after 13 years in Congress to take a position as president of Youngstown State University. His seat has sat empty since then.

The election took place under congressional maps that the Ohio Supreme Court previously deemed unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor the state’s ruling Republicans.

The sprawling 6th District, which runs through 11 counties along the Ohio River, leans nearly 59% Republican, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, a political mapmaking website.

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