Cook Report shifts Ohio House race toward Democrats amid scrutiny over GOP candidate

The nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report announced on Friday that it is shifting its rating of a competitive Ohio House district in Democrats’ favor following reporting on the Republican candidate’s military credentials.

Cook Political Report House editor Dave Wasserman wrote that the election watcher is changing its rating of Ohio’s 9th Congressional District, which features a match-up between Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) and Republican candidate J.R. Majewski, from “toss up” to “lean Democrat.”

Wasserman noted that the ratings change came in light of recent reporting from The Associated Press, which found that while Majewski touted on the campaign trail that he had served in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, records obtained from the wire service found he had actually been deployed for six months in Qatar at an air base where he loaded planes.

Majewski has contested those reports, saying that his deployments were classified and claiming that the story was aimed at trying to defame him.

“Prior to the story, Democrats had been casting Majewski as an unhinged QAnon enthusiast who took part in a mob that attacked police. But it was far from clear those attacks would disqualify him in a GOP-redrawn seat that voted for Donald Trump by three points in 2020,” Wasserman wrote.

“Allegations of stolen valor, however, are another story — they’re likelier to turn off independent voters who have moved on from January 6.”

The Cook Political Report editor noted that factors including the House Republicans’ campaign arm canceling ad expenditures for the race and Kaptur’s strength as a Democrat who’s been able to notch government spending in her state for decades added to their reasoning to shift their rating toward Democrats.

“In 2020, she ran 11 points ahead of Joe Biden’s margin in the three counties that carried over to the new 9th CD. The same type of overperformance would allow her to win comfortably in the new, Trump +3 seat,” Wasserman wrote.

Democrats are broadly expected to lose the House but have a competitive shot at retaining the Senate in November. Some Republicans have lowered their expectations of the kind of red wave that was initially hoped for before the midterm season, though Democrats are still facing several headwinds, including the president’s lagging approval ratings and decades-high inflation.

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