John King, USA

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August 26th, 2010
12:52 PM ET

CNN 100: Dems have eye on central Ohio seat

Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:

Ohio 12th: Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R) is seeking a sixth term
Primary: May 4, 2010
Location: Central Ohio, Columbus suburbs
Days until Election Day: 68

(CNN) – Democrats may have as good as shot as any in recent years to capture Ohio's 12th Congressional District this November, but a potential victory in this Republican-leaning district still remains a tall order.

Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks is the Democratic candidate and her fundraising prowess has impressed the national party who once had little hope of carrying the district Barack Obama won with 54 percent of the vote in 2008. But Brooks still finds her campaign war chest to be about a third of the size as the five-term incumbent Rep. Patrick Tiberi, who himself has been aggressively fundraising over the last year.

Brooks is further disadvantaged by the fact that she doesn't live in the district itself (she has said she lives "eight minutes away" in what is the 15th Congressional District), and also faces the burden of running as a Democrat in a year when the party is especially unpopular in economically ravaged states like Ohio.

Adding to Brooks' woes is the demographics of the district that naturally favor a Republican candidate. It's Democratic stronghold – made up of the eastern half of Columbus that is predominantly African-American, is more than outweighed by the city's northern and eastern suburbs where Republican voters dominate. President Obama was able to carry the district on the back of a heavy black turnout in 2008, but a similar turnout is unlikely in 2010 when the top of the ballot features a gubernatorial race that is drawing a fraction of enthusiasm the presidential race did two years ago.

Still, Tiberi, who has yet to face a serious challenge during his 10 years in the House, is not immune to the anti-incumbent fervor that has swept most corners of the country. And Democrats are hoping their optimistic economic message contrasted with the more dire picture painted by the GOP may be enough to carry the day.