Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine defeated a primary challenge and won renomination from Republicans in the state on Tuesday.
DeWine, who took office in 2019, defeated a Republican primary field that included former Rep. Jim Renacci, businessman and farmer Joe Blystone, and former state Rep. Ron Hood.
DeWine, who has governed as a conservative, including the enactment of tax cuts and anti-abortion measures, sparked the anger of some activists for his approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. In spring 2020, in response to the initial crisis, DeWine's administration implemented some social distancing requirements, as well as other restrictions on public spaces and businesses. The restrictions were lifted several months ago, but those actions were a frequent point of contention from his primary challengers, who argued he hurt business and cost jobs.
DeWine defended his approach as pragmatic, arguing that Ohio was one of the first states to implement these restrictions but also one of the first states to lift them. DeWine, 75, recently recovered from COVID-19 himself.
DeWine co-chaired Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign in Ohio but afterward did not embrace the former president's unfounded claims that the election was stolen. Trump won the state, which may have helped DeWine avoid the revenge the ex-president has sought to exact on other Republican officials who did not back his 2020 claims, such as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
Trump once signaled he would get involved in the race but did not ultimately make an endorsement in Ohio’s Republican gubernatorial primary. With multiple challengers, the anti-DeWine vote was split among different candidates, leaving the incumbent's path to win renomination clear.
ARealClearPolitics average of polls shortly before the May 3 primary showed DeWine leading the Republican primary field by 16.5 points. Those same polls indicated that if there had been just one anti-DeWine challenger, it would have been a much closer race.
DeWine has a long history of holding elected office. Over his 40-plus-year political career, DeWine was been a state senator, House member, lieutenant governor, and U.S. senator. After DeWine lost his Senate seat in the 2006 Democratic wave, he made an unusual political comeback in 2010 by winning the Ohio attorney general's office. He used that position as a springboard in 2018 to win the governorship.
DeWine will go on to face Nan Whaley, a former mayor of Dayton, who was projected the winner of the Democratic nomination for governor of Ohio on Tuesday.