DeWine Walks Fine Line Between Trump, Establishment in Ohio Governor Race

Mike DeWine
Brooke LaValley/The Columbus Dispatch via AP

Former Sen. Mike DeWine finds himself as the GOP’s nominee for governor in Ohio, walking a fine line between the establishment ways of old in the era of President Donald Trump.

DeWine, interestingly, has not appeared on stage with Trump at any of the president’s rallies in the Buckeye state. However, he has courted Trump supporters at the periphery, perhaps one of the most awkward intra-GOP marriages between the economic nationalist Trump base and the old ways of the fading establishment in the first midterm election in Trump’s presidency.

The strength of the bond between two rival wings of the GOP will be put to the test on Tuesday as voters in the buckle of the nation’s rust belt decide if they want DeWine, or former Obama administration official and Democrat nominee Richard Cordray, to govern the state.

DeWine’s apparent unwillingness or inability to openly embrace the president in the same way GOP candidates in other races nationwide have done highlights the divide within the Republican party. DeWine, who currently serves as Ohio’s Attorney General, served in the United States Senate long before Trump upended the political landscape.

In February of this year, DeWine did not attend a Trump event held in Cincinnati, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

In March, Randy Ludlow, a senior reporter for the Columbus Dispatchtweeted that DeWine was invited to Trump’s infrastructure event in Richfield, but had already made prior engagements.

Dewine also missed a Trump event held in Cleveland in May due to his son’s college graduation, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

“DeWine had planned to attend an Ohio appearance this weekend by President Donald Trump, but its shifting schedule has made him a no-show.”

WOSU reported in May that DeWine had missed three of President Trump’s Ohio events in the past year.

“Taylor has attended all three of the president’s trips to Ohio in the past year. While DeWine didn’t go to those events, he did travel to D.C. to take part in a meeting with the Trump Administration regarding opioids.”

When DeWine and Trump both spoke separately at the Ohio Republican Party State Dinner in August, the two did not appear together.

DeWine did admit in an interview with WSPD Radio to having a conversation with President Trump after a rally held for Troy Balderson in Ohio in August.

“But to do that, we need a good working relationship with the president, and so, I intend to have that relationship,” DeWine explained. “I was with him about a week, no, two weeks ago now when he came in for the special congressional seat that Balderson ended up winning. I had an opportunity to have a conversation after the rally with him and he’s going to come back into Ohio on Friday.”

In October 2018, DeWine said, “Yeah, I Think So,” when asked whether he would join Trump at a rally in Cincinnati. “We’ve got another rally scheduled in Cincinnati, so I’ve got to figure that out. … I would like to be there.”

Latest polls give Democrat Richard Cordray a 4.7 point lead over DeWine, with 47.7 percent supporting Cordray and 43 percent supporting DeWine.


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