Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine sees growing criticism from fellow Republicans

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine

Statehouse Republicans pushed forward a series of bills last week that would limit his authority to issue orders in response to the pandemic, and they sent a letter criticizing him for telling businesses to act as 'mask police.'

Posted: Nov 23, 2020 11:42 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — For months, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine steered cleared of second-guessing President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, despite their polar-opposite responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor’s reward? A suggestion by the president that another Republican should challenge him in Ohio’s 2022 election.

Trump’s warning came after DeWine said it was time to realize Joe Biden had won the presidential race.

That was just the start of a rough few days last week for the Ohio governor, who is dealing with a state he says “is on fire” with skyrocketing coronavirus cases, and now finds himself fending off questions about his political future.

DeWine is feeling the heat mostly from within his party.

Statehouse Republicans pushed forward a series of bills last week that would limit his authority to issue orders in response to the pandemic, and they sent a letter criticizing him for telling businesses to act as “mask police.”

On top of that, a group of anti-abortion organizations announced they no longer had confidence in DeWine because of his choices to lead the state’s health department.

It was another surprising turn against a governor who last year signed one of the most stringent abortion restrictions in the nation.

GOP dissatisfaction with the governor is leading to plenty of talk about who might run in a Republican primary against DeWine, who has been elected to almost every position in Ohio during a 40-year career and could rightly be considered the state’s most successful politician in decades.

One name being brought up is U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a hard-right conservative who is one of Trump’s biggest allies in Congress and has the name recognition and fundraising capability needed for a statewide run.

Jordan hasn’t said whether he has any interest in running for governor, but several times recently he has poked fun on Twitter at DeWine’s mask and curfew orders.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who ran a failed U.S. Senate campaign two years ago, is thought to be considering a run and at the same time has been unleashing a string of tweets criticizing DeWine’s handling of the pandemic.

DeWine, 73, said this past week he’s “not spending much time thinking about politics at this point. We have a pandemic to deal with.”

“The Mike DeWine that you see today is the same Mike DeWine that got elected,” he said a day after ordering a statewide curfew. “I am pro-life — I’m completely pro-life. And that means I worry about the child before it’s born, and I worry about the 80-year-old who’s in a nursing home who might get COVID.”

Ohio GOP strategist Terry Casey said it’s likely that a Republican will challenge DeWine, but “the question is whether anybody with name ID and money, who knows who to run a state campaign, will actually file.”

Polling still shows DeWine has strong and broad support despite the frustration and unhappiness stemming from the pandemic, Casey said.

Early during the coronavirus outbreak, DeWine won praise for his aggressive steps to slow the spread, but since then he has encountered criticism from those who think he went too far with business shutdowns and believe he backed down from protecting the public.

“A lot of people around here enjoy their liberties and feel he’s infringing on them in a big way,” said Richard Delzeith, the GOP chair in rural Mercer County, where DeWine won 80% of the vote two years ago. “People have lost their businesses to the shutdown. They will definitely remember this.”

“People tell me they will never vote for DeWine ever again,” he said. “That’s pretty strong wording.”

The party’s leaders in a handful of other rural counties said it’s too early to know whether the frustration out there now will last.

Lacie Sims, who owns the Village Family Restaurant in Waynesville, a village in southwestern Ohio, said DeWine “doesn’t have many supporters here.”

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She voted for him in 2018 but soured on him after he shut down indoor dining last winter before many counties, including hers, had any confirmed cases. Her restaurant has lost $250,000 since then, she said.

Sims, who wanted it known that she takes the virus seriously, said she would welcome a Republican primary for governor in 2022.

“I would be very hard pressed not to support someone who believes in small government,” Sims said. “If that candidate is out there, I hope they run. They’ll have my support.”

The revolt among conservatives stems from Trump’s outsized influence over the party, which has displaced the power of more traditional Republicans, said La Trice Washington, an Otterbein University political science professor.

The question for DeWine is whether voters in rural Ohio who overwhelmingly support Trump and remain skeptical of the coronavirus and DeWine’s protective measures will still feel that way in less than 18 months when Ohio holds its primary election.

Perhaps DeWine can recover, Washington said, “but I don’t think Donald Trump will be anything less than relentless, and he’ll be watching.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 749097

Reported Deaths: 13745
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1030271775
Lake554211006
Allen41613691
St. Joseph36933564
Hamilton36505416
Elkhart29347459
Tippecanoe22849225
Vanderburgh22540400
Porter19313325
Johnson18386387
Hendricks17583317
Clark13190193
Madison13111344
Vigo12602253
LaPorte12385221
Monroe12152175
Delaware10947197
Howard10250225
Kosciusko9609119
Hancock8541144
Bartholomew8158157
Warrick7854156
Floyd7763180
Grant7227179
Wayne7154201
Boone6911103
Morgan6735141
Dubois6211118
Marshall6205116
Cass5989108
Henry5893108
Dearborn588878
Noble579786
Jackson508374
Shelby500697
Lawrence4727121
Gibson444093
Harrison440473
Clinton439855
DeKalb438585
Montgomery433890
Whitley405642
Huntington402181
Steuben398659
Miami392568
Jasper386254
Knox375690
Putnam371860
Wabash360583
Ripley346470
Adams344955
Jefferson335685
White329753
Daviess3028100
Wells294881
Decatur289992
Greene286385
Fayette284664
Posey273735
LaGrange272872
Scott269855
Clay265448
Randolph244683
Washington244534
Jennings235149
Spencer234131
Starke227558
Fountain218347
Sullivan213943
Owen210858
Fulton201542
Jay200832
Carroll193420
Orange188055
Perry186937
Rush175626
Vermillion173544
Franklin170135
Tipton165746
Parke148916
Pike137934
Blackford136032
Pulaski120047
Newton112636
Brown103943
Crawford102316
Benton100814
Martin91415
Warren83515
Switzerland8098
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0421

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1106796

Reported Deaths: 20091
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1284601459
Cuyahoga1155792204
Hamilton812751245
Montgomery524631040
Summit48327999
Lucas43289817
Butler38886603
Stark33275929
Lorain25631502
Warren24554303
Mahoning22327601
Lake21133385
Clermont20095252
Delaware18815135
Licking16643222
Fairfield16552204
Trumbull16520479
Medina15592270
Greene15246246
Clark14216306
Wood13276197
Portage13226214
Allen11904239
Richland11596211
Miami10832223
Wayne9112222
Columbiana9016230
Muskingum8889135
Pickaway8646122
Marion8633138
Tuscarawas8633247
Erie8049164
Ashtabula7136179
Hancock6995131
Ross6932161
Geauga6831150
Scioto6525104
Belmont6148174
Union583549
Lawrence5722102
Jefferson5669158
Huron5539122
Sandusky5433125
Darke5414129
Seneca5342126
Washington5307109
Athens523360
Auglaize501587
Mercer487385
Shelby476195
Knox4567112
Madison443665
Ashland435097
Putnam4333103
Fulton431871
Defiance431798
Crawford4031110
Brown401861
Logan387177
Preble3847103
Clinton378166
Ottawa372581
Highland359165
Williams347578
Champaign343558
Guernsey324153
Jackson317254
Perry297150
Morrow291240
Fayette285450
Hardin274865
Henry273267
Holmes2697101
Coshocton268359
Van Wert247264
Adams242856
Pike242735
Gallia240450
Wyandot234556
Hocking220062
Carroll196648
Paulding176342
Meigs148240
Monroe136144
Noble135739
Harrison113638
Morgan109624
Vinton85417
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
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Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 61°
Angola
Mostly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 59°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 60°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 61°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 62°
Mostly sunny skies dominate on Monday. A weak cold front may cause a handful of showers to pop up after noon.
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