Gov. Mike DeWine has two expectations of his 2022 re-election campaign.
The Republican patriarch of Ohio politics whose term has been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic expects to face a primary opponent — and expects to win.
Former congressman and 2018 losing U.S. Senate candidate Jim Renacci has been making the most noise about running against DeWine in the GOP primary, castigating DeWine over his handling the pandemic and staging town halls.
“I would expect to have a primary because my experience in politics is that I generally do have a primary opponent,” DeWine told The Dispatch in a recent interview. “I don’t know who that will be.”
DeWine defeated Mary Taylor, then lieutenant governor to Gov. John Kasich, in the 2018 Republican primary and then beat Democrat Richard Cordray to win the governor’s office.
DeWine is confident he can win a second term, even among criticism from right-wing Republicans who have chaffed at his public health orders and mask mandate in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus.
“I would expect to win, yes, but I certainly take nothing for granted,” DeWine said.
He continues to defend his debated response to the pandemic. “It’s a heavy burden knowing the decisions you are making not only impact people’s lives, lots of times they are life and death decisions. We certainly don’t get everything right.”
Renacci, who has not officially announced a bid to dump DeWine, did not respond to requests for comment.
On the Democratic side, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who is not seeking re-election, is expected to run.
Meanwhile, DeWine expects a return to a gubernatorial fixture that was skipped last year amid the explosion of coronavirus — a State of the State address to lawmakers and Ohioans.
He is discussing the scheduling of an address with Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, and House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, although it is uncertain whether it will be in-person at the Statehouse or conducted remotely online.
“We still need to do it in a way that is safe for everyone,” the governor said. “That will be a concern.”