Mike DeWine endorsed by Trump in Ohio governor’s race in marked shift

“[L]ittle has been said about the race for Governor, where we have an outstanding person running, Mike DeWine, who quietly, but professionally, goes about doing his job and really well,” Trump, who is scheduled to hold a rally on September 17, said in a statement Wednesday released by his Save America leadership PAC.

The endorsement marks a notable shift for Trump, who had hinted in the past that he was not a fan of the governor, and has backed a series of election-denying candidates in high-profile midterm races across the country.

The former President had attempted to recruit a primary challenger to DeWine immediately following the 2020 election, after the Ohio governor recognized Joe Biden as president-elect and encouraged Trump to begin a peaceful transition during an appearance on CNN.

“Who will be running for governor of Ohio? Will be hotly contested!” Trump tweeted at the time in response to the segment.

Trump ultimately steered clear of the primary, declining earlier this year to endorse Jim Renacci, the former Ohio congressman and failed US Senate candidate. DeWine easily fended off his right-wing challengers, who were critical of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, in the May nominating contest.

DeWine’s popularity with the business community in Ohio, a long record of social conservatism, his strong fundraising and poll numbers and the energy focused on the hotly contested Senate GOP primary blunted any concerted movement on the right to punish the governor for what conservative critics described as overstepping on pandemic policy.

The governor, who is seeking a second term in a state that has become increasingly red in recent cycles, has been a staple in his party’s politics in Ohio for nearly four decades. A conservative establishment figure, DeWine’s long political career includes representing Ohio in the US House and Senate, as well as serving as the state’s attorney general and lieutenant governor.

He thanked Trump for his endorsement Wednesday evening, writing in a tweet: “Lt. Governor @JonHusted and I are grateful for President Trump’s support! Thank you. #WinningForOH.”

DeWine is running against Democrat Nan Whaley and is widely expected to win reelection.

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