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Gov. Mike DeWine Brushes Off Impeachment Effort

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during an interview at the Governor's Residence in Columbus, Ohio on Dec. 13, 2019.
John Minchillo
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during an interview in Columbus in this Dec. 13, 2019 file photo.

Gov. Mike DeWine has a message for the handful of fellow Republicans in the legislature trying to impeach him: "Have at it." 

DeWine says leaders in Ohio should be focusing on more important issues such as protecting people's health, the economy and gun violence. At his coronavirus press conference Tuesday, the governor defended his response to the pandemic by saying he approached decisions from the conservative viewpoint of "preserving life."

"We're going to get through this," DeWine says. "We don't need to lose any more than we need to lose, people who could get through this and can come out the other side and have a great life ahead no matter what age they are. We don't want to lose them."

There are four House Republicans looking to launch an impeachment of DeWine. The governor says he has a "great deal of respect" for the four legislators but argues the state is going through a "once in a 102-year pandemic" and that he will do what he has to in order to protect Ohioans.

"If that's how they want to spend their time. You know, I would just say to them, have at it," DeWine said. "But my focus is to do what I'm sworn to do, and that is to protect the people of the state of Ohio. To get this economy moving faster, to save lives, that's what I'm going to do."

State Rep. John Becker (R-Cincinnati) is leading the charge against DeWine. In the articles of impeachment he introduced Monday, Becker says DeWine has overreached his authority in his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Becker points to delaying the March presidential primary and closing non-essential businesses as examples.

"The governor is not working with the General Assembly," Becker said. "He is, you know, some would say 'governor gone wild,' and he needs to be stopped."

Meanwhile, newly-elected House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) has rejected the idea of impeachment.

"It is clear to me that it is an imprudent attempt to escalate important policy disagreements with the governor into a state constitutional crisis. Even serious policy disagreements do not rise to the level of impeachment under our constitution," Cupp said in a written statement.

DeWine says keeping people healthy will ultimately help the economy.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.