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

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (蘑菇影院) 鈥 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鈥檚 narrow majority in the congressional chamber.

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

Rulli鈥檚 victory by roughly 10 percentage points was much closer than earlier GOP performances in Ohio鈥檚 6th District. Johnson won his last four elections by more than 30 percentage points. Trump also carried the district by around 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.

鈥淲e knew the polls were gong to be close, and the guy I ran against really worked. He鈥檚 a really hard worker,鈥 Rulli said. 鈥淏ut this is a blue-collar district, this is Bruce Springstein, the forgotten man, 鈥楯oe Bag of Donuts.鈥 They don鈥檛 trust the Democrats and Republicans, and they look at the individual. And I鈥檓 really good at retail politics.鈥

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

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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.

鈥淭onight鈥檚 results have not diminished our spirit,鈥 Kripchak said in a written statement. 鈥淭hough historically a red district, our campaign outperformed expectations, proving the doubters wrong.鈥

Former Rep. 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鈥檚 ruling Republicans.

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

Smyth has covered government and politics from Columbus, Ohio, for 蘑菇影院 since 2006.