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Mike DeWine secures Republican nomination for Ohio Governor

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine answers reporters questions in Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 6, 2022.
Paul Vernon
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine answers reporters questions in Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 6, 2022.

Updated May 3, 2022 at 10:20 p.m.

Incumbent Ohio Governor Mike DeWine wins the Republican nomination for Ohio governor, defeating former Congressman and business Jim Renacci, Central Ohio farmer and business owner Joe Blystone, and Ron Hood, a former state representative from Ashville who described himself as a “forever Trumper.”

DeWine was the first incumbent governor of Ohio to be challenged in a primary since 1978.

The challengers, who positioned themselves as being further to the right of DeWine politically, were vocal critics of his health orders in 2020.

In the early stages of the pandemic, DeWine was the first governor in the country to order schools to close and begin remote learning. He also issued health orders to shut down businesses and implement social distancing requirements.

DeWine defended his actions during the pandemic saying they made decisions based on the "best information" available.

"It was my responsibility as governor to take the actions that needed to be taken. I think if you looked at how Ohio approached the pandemic and how other states approach the pandemic, I believe that we had a proper balance between public safety and also allowing people to make their livelihoods," said DeWine.

Republican candidate Jim Renacci, a former northeast Ohio congressman who ran for US Senate in 2018, ran a campaign focused on criticizing DeWine's health orders.

"When did we start taking away these rights? That's the real issue that I'm hearing as I travel around Ohio. And that's the concern I have too. So as governor, again, these are decisions. These should be individual choice decisions," said Renacci.

Joe Blystone, a central Ohio farmer and businessman, said he never even thought about running for public office until DeWine's COVID-19 response, which included a statewide mask mandate.

Blystone said Ohio implemented overbearing health orders, "And we saw – 'You cover your face up. You stay away from people. Don't send your kids to school. Don't go to church.' Our rights [were] severely stomped on."

The three challengers in the race were all vying for the support of former President Donald Trump. But Trump never endorsed anyone in the race, and the candidates — going for the anti-DeWine vote — turned their attacks on each other as well.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchik released a statement congratulating DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

"Ohio Republicans look forward to voters across the Buckeye State rallying around their steadfast leadership to, once again, win the Governor's Office in November," Paduchik wrote in a statement.

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.