COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — President Joe Biden threw his political weight behind two-term Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo on Monday, as she faces a Trump-backed Republican in the race for an open central Ohio congressional seat.
The president’s endorsement came a day ahead of Election Day in the only U.S. House seat nationally that Democrats have a chance to flip. Voters will also decide a congressional race in the Cleveland area and a hotly contested U.S. House primary in Florida.
Russo, a 45-year-old public health policy consultant, faces Republican Mike Carey, a long-time coal lobbyist, for the seat vacated in May by veteran GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers. His gerrymandered district sprawls across 12 Ohio counties, from impoverished parts of Appalachia to the posh Columbus suburbs.
Carey, 50, won a crowded Republican primary with the help of former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and is favored to win Tuesday’s election.
Biden said Russo’s life circumstances make her best for the job.
“The daughter of a union carpenter and a spouse of a combat veteran, Allison Russo knows who built America: working people and the middle class,” he said in a statement. “She’s the kind of leader we need as we build back an economy that creates good-paying jobs, delivers more affordable health care, and puts middle-class families first.”
When Trump endorsed Carey before the August primary, he said: “Numerous candidates in the Great State of Ohio, running in Congressional District 15, are saying that I am supporting them, when in actuality, I don’t know them, and don’t even know who they are. But I do know who Mike Carey is — I know a lot about him, and it is all good.”
Both endorsements could resonate with voters in the state. Trump twice carried Ohio by more than 8 percentage points, besting Biden last year with a record-setting 3.1 million votes to 2.68 million.
Democrat Barack Obama — with whom Biden served as vice president — also twice won the state. The 2.94 million votes he received in 2008 set the previous record.