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As Ohio Republicans Cast Doubt On Election, Trump Voters Hesitant About Biden Presidency

Melissa Martin stands on top of scaffolding to paint the top trim of her new storefront in Chillicothe.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Melissa Martin stands on top of scaffolding to paint the top trim of her new storefront in Chillicothe.

Days after Vice President Joe Biden secured enough Electoral College votes to win the presidential election, Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday issued a statement congratulating Biden – but stopped short of recognizing his victory.

"The President's lawyers have every right to present evidence in court on any legal issues or irregularities involving the election, and the courts are the proper place to hear evidence on these issues," DeWine's statement read. "When lawsuits have concluded and election results are certified, it is important for all Americans to honor the outcome."

President Trump, who has refused to concede and falsely claims he won the election, has filed lawsuits in several states challenging the ballot-counting process. DeWine and other Republican officeholders said they will wait to recognize the presidential election results until after Trump's legal actions, many of which have already been dismissed by courts, play out.

In Ohio, which gave its 18 Electoral College votes to Trump for the second election in a row, millions of voters may also be wishing the election have gone the other way.

On a sunny morning in downtown Chillicothe, Melissa Martin is eight feet in the air, perched on top of scaffolding set up along the sidewalk repainting the front of her business. Martin is about to open a new shop along this possible strip.

She says this new venture would not be possible without the past four years of Trump as president. 

"Let's put it this way," Martin says. "At the end of the Obama term, I was ready to go out of business after eight years of Obama."

Martin says that's because Trump created tax reform and cut down on regulations that improved the market and her own confidence in the economy. She says the idea of a Biden presidency doesn’t sit well with her. 

"I'm scared for our taxes," Martin says. "They believe small businesses have all this money, which we don't. They're ready to tax the crap out of us, the Democrats are." 

Rita Lewis, who drives an hour every day to work for Martin, is underneath the scaffolding, giving the trim around the store's doorway a new coat of paint. 

Lewis is also a Trump supporter and says her number one issue is abortion.

"And I think that the Democratic Party is going in the wrong direction with that," Lewis says. "I have a problem with that."

Chillicothe is in Ross County, which Trump won with 66% of the vote. Statewide, Trump won Ohio, usually seen as a swing state, by an 8-point margin over Biden – similar to margin he won the state in 2016.   

Tracey Winbush, former Ohio Republican Party treasurer, is from Mahoning County, a historically Democratic stronghold that flipped for Trump this year.

"What I saw on Election Night is that the Mahoning Valley is growing up and finding out that not all politics are one-sided," Winbush says. "And so when you have a balanced political system you have a strong system, and a strong government and you have strong leadership. Because you need to sharpen each other by a different perspective, yet work together."

She has the same concerns about a Biden presidency, but says she sees some hope with Biden's message of unity.  

"Forty-seven years is a long time, and he said that we was gonna cross the aisle, he said that he's gonna work with us," Winbush says. "I can only take him at his word and pray that he's had a change of heart and he's going to do that."  

Out of the Trump supporters who spoke out in Chillicothe, no one wanted to talk about a perceived Biden presidency without making it known that they're not convinced Biden will end up in the White House on January 20.

Along with the economy and abortion, Trump supporters are also concerned about what a Biden presidency will do for national security and immigration.

As Pat Highland sits on a bench, across the street from Martin's new business, his granddaughter enjoys a treat from the ice cream shop he owns. Highland, a Biden supporter, knows he's outnumbered in his own community, but he holds out hope that this city and the country can come together. 

"Everybody has their opinion," Highland says. "But I think in the end run, everybody will feel that it's necessary for us to all get together. And it's there's some things the Republicans want to accomplish and the things the Democrats there's no reason we can't do that."

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.