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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: 590211

Reported Deaths: 9310
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion815581297
Lake44306666
Allen31919541
Hamilton28371304
St. Joseph26766371
Elkhart24098341
Vanderburgh18643213
Tippecanoe17422121
Johnson14496284
Porter14399160
Hendricks13870241
Madison10561212
Vigo10483171
Clark10240130
Monroe9076108
Delaware8836132
LaPorte8771155
Howard7897138
Kosciusko787277
Warrick643890
Hancock638797
Bartholomew626694
Floyd6150105
Wayne5933157
Grant5818110
Dubois544372
Boone534367
Morgan516291
Marshall494184
Henry493664
Cass471760
Noble460557
Dearborn458444
Jackson414745
Shelby402179
Lawrence380575
Clinton364539
Gibson356556
DeKalb337363
Montgomery334851
Harrison328542
Knox327839
Miami309843
Steuben306340
Adams295235
Whitley294125
Wabash293045
Ripley292345
Putnam284847
Huntington283557
Jasper282433
White267538
Daviess261672
Jefferson250738
Fayette242348
Decatur242182
Greene233360
Posey232326
Wells229447
LaGrange224161
Clay217932
Scott216937
Randolph208340
Jennings192535
Sullivan189031
Spencer181917
Fountain179725
Washington177118
Starke171341
Jay162821
Owen159537
Fulton159229
Carroll152115
Orange151433
Rush149918
Perry147227
Vermillion144933
Franklin143433
Parke12908
Tipton128232
Pike113625
Blackford107522
Pulaski95237
Newton89421
Brown85530
Benton84310
Crawford7579
Martin70013
Warren6587
Switzerland6205
Union6113
Ohio4677
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 826754

Reported Deaths: 10200
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin97493705
Cuyahoga821781012
Hamilton61350439
Montgomery41700399
Summit33399726
Lucas30111597
Butler29721228
Stark24811400
Warren18917139
Lorain18086212
Mahoning16758335
Lake15365135
Clermont15160104
Delaware1382177
Licking12679132
Trumbull12401302
Fairfield1218480
Greene11631133
Medina11128165
Clark10608264
Wood9964154
Allen9511126
Portage8867105
Miami886573
Richland8790116
Marion7319113
Tuscarawas7142174
Columbiana7085124
Pickaway702850
Wayne6781164
Muskingum671242
Erie5886118
Hancock537890
Ross530287
Scioto519662
Geauga483555
Darke457589
Ashtabula439068
Lawrence432651
Union430628
Mercer424287
Sandusky421862
Seneca413555
Auglaize412759
Huron410338
Shelby410221
Jefferson403366
Belmont395640
Washington372040
Putnam364672
Athens36369
Madison339329
Knox336522
Ashland331738
Fulton325943
Defiance319278
Crawford313268
Preble311534
Brown296619
Logan292729
Ottawa282134
Clinton279043
Williams270166
Highland262418
Jackson256943
Guernsey241725
Champaign240927
Fayette225529
Morrow22294
Perry221318
Holmes218662
Henry210247
Hardin204133
Coshocton197420
Van Wert196644
Gallia190926
Wyandot190549
Adams165615
Pike164116
Hocking163423
Carroll149516
Paulding139021
Noble117840
Meigs103221
Monroe95629
Harrison8568
Morgan79128
Vinton67113
Unassigned00
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Angola
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