Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Republicans claimed victory Wednesday in a tight race for Ohio's open congressional seat, although absentee and provisional ballots still need to be counted.
With 100 percent of Tuesday's votes counted, Republican Troy Balderson led with 101,574 votes, or 50.2 percent of the total vote. Democratic challenger Danny O'Connor won 49.3 percent, and trails by less than 2,300 votes.
The race in the longtime Republican district, where President Donald Trump won by 11 points in the 2016 presidential election, may hinge on 3,435 provisional ballots that haven't been counted yet.
Ohio law triggers for an automatic recount if the final tally difference is slimmer than a half-percent -- meaning O'Connor, down by 0.9 percent, still needs to make up some ground for that to happen.
Balderson claimed victory, late Tuesday but O'Connor has not conceded.
"I am honored for the opportunity to represent Ohio's 12th congressional district," Balderson wrote in a statement. "I will work relentlessly for everyone."
"Folks, our race is too close to call," O'Connor countered. "And now we're entering what could be a long and expensive recount."
If Balderson remains ahead, he will take over the seat that was vacated by Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi, who resigned to work in the private sector.
Whoever is declared the winner will have to go into re-election mode rather quickly. The seat comes open again in November, as Balderson or O'Connor will merely serve out the remainder of Tiberi's term.
Whatever the outcome, Tuesday's results showed Democrats made great strides in the 12th District, which contains suburban Columbus and parts of rural Ohio. The district hasn't elected a Democrat to the House since 1980.