Michael Rulli, center, Ohio Senate Republican from the 33rd District,...

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. Credit: AP/Joe Maiorana

COLUMBUS, Ohio — 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 victory by roughly 10 percentage points 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 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.

“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.

“Tonight’s results have not diminished our spirit,” Kripchak said in a written statement. “Though historically a red district, our campaign outperformed expectations, proving the doubters wrong.”

In this image provided by the Committee to Elect Michael...

In this image provided by the Committee to Elect Michael Kripchak, Democratic candidate for Congress, Michael Kripchak, standing, meets with supporters on Feb. 18, 2024, at the Monroe County, Ohio, Democratic Party, Pre-Primary Baked Steak Dinner. Kripchak faces Republican state Sen. Michael Rulli in the Tuesday, June 11, 2024, special election for the U.S. House seat in Ohio's 6th District. The seat has been vacant since longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson resigned in January to become a university president. Credit: AP

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’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.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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